Human ears evolved early, according to a report in New Scientist, 26 June 2004, p16.
Scientists have used computerised x-ray scanning of fossilised skulls from the mountains of Spain to study their middle and inner ear structure. The skulls are classified as Homo heidelbergensis, believed to be 350,000 years old. They found the ears would have been able to hear sound waves with frequencies of 2 to 4 kilohertz. This means they would have had good hearing for the range of human speech. It also makes Homo heidelburgensis ears distinctly different from chimpanzee ears, which are not very good at hearing sounds in the human range.
Editorial Comment: This study is good evidence that so called “Heidelberg Man” was fully human. Living humans are most sensitive to sounds in the 2-4 kilohertz range, even though we hear sounds above and below this range. It also reminds us that communication requires organs for speech making and speech receiving to exist at the same time. As these both involve highly complex and precise functions, this is a real challenge to the belief that human communication evolved by chance from animal grunts.
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