Back in 2005, BBC broadcast their documentary Neanderthal – The Rebirth, with the medium detailing the behavioral and movement pattern of the Neanderthals, based on actual skeletal remains. Now of course since then the academic realm has learned a lot more about our prehistoric ‘cousins’, including how modern humans and Neanderthals probably even interbred earlier than previously thought (around 47,000-65,000 years ago). But as far as hypothesis goes, renowned voice coach Patsy Rodenburg made her educated guess on how a Neanderthal might have sounded, based on a model of a male Neanderthal’s vocal tract. And the conclusion is arguably different than most of our popular notions about the ‘grunting’ nature of the quintessential caveman.
A squat vocal tract, deep rib-cage, heavy skull and finally a wide nasal cavity – all of these anatomical factors possibly played their part in what can be simply described as a ‘strange’ voice recreated in the video. As for our part, we humbly raise our hats to the re-enactor himself (named Elliot) for keeping his composure while making what may seem as eccentric vocal effects.
Interestingly enough, beyond just their voice, Neanderthals possibly had other surprises up their proverbial sleeves. For example, in 2016, researchers from the University of Bordeaux discovered a pair of mysterious stone rings inside a cave at Bruniquel in southwest France. Judged to be around 176,000 years old, the structural ambit is suggestive of a pretty definitive building order (for the Paleolithic age), thus alluding to how the Neanderthals exhibited more complex behavioral patterns than they are given credit for. As lead archaeologist Jacques Jaubert said –
[The arranged stalagmites are 176,000 years old, thus] making these edifices among the oldest known well-dated constructions made by humans [with Neanderthals being a sub-species of the human in the genus Homo]. Their presence at 336 meters (368 yards) from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity.