Variation and prediction of the hyoid bone position for modern man and neanderthal Variation et prediction de la position de los hyoide de lhomme moderne a neandertal

Boe, L.-Jean.; Granat, J.; Autesserre, D.; Perrier, P.; Peyre, E.

Biometrie Humaine et Anthropologie 24(3-4): 257-271


Accession: 038876066

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This work is part of a project searching for the origin of speech, and in particular for possible speech prerequisites in the geometry, musculature and control of the vocal tract. The hyoid bone is an important anatomical landmark for the tongue and for the localization of the larynx. Its position allows its to infer the position of the vocal folds and so of one of the extremities of the vocal tract. It is for this reason that the hyoid bone plays a key role in the debate on the emergence of speech. The hyoid bone is unique in that it is not directly attached to any other bone in the skeleton. It is always in movement, depending on mastication, respiration, deglutition, swallowing, and production of speech. Our goal was to determine what reference plane was most appropriate for predicting the position of the hyoid bone: a cranial reference plane or a mandibular reference plan. We used xeroradiographic and radiographic data of speakers uttering sustained vowels to build our training data. Our results corroborate Granat and Peyre's proposition (2005). The mean position of the hyoid bone is located oil a parallel plane defined by the Merkel plane at the level of the gnathion. To illustrate this result, we applied our prediction to four modern skulls belonging to four different populations chosen for a certain diversity of world skull morphology: Toucouleur from West Africa, Egyptian of the Libyan desert, Asian from Mongolia, and Australian and Tasmanian, to which we added a famous Neandertal Man, La Ferrassie These results were adopted to reconstruct the vocal tract of fossil Men and to predict their ability to produce speech.