Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

La situation du larynx du genre Homo. Données anatomiques, embryologiques et physiologiques

Abstract : The Hyoid bone is not well known in paleoanthhropology because so far only one Neanderthal specimen has been discovered in Kebara Cave, Israel. This bone is the main piece of the entire oral-larynx-pharynx construction. It is not fixed to, or articulated with any other bone. Therefore the study of this bone in its actual location can only be done through X-rays or dissection. The bone's position in human fossils has only been estimated by mathematical methods. During the evolution of the Homo genus, the hyoid bone evolved as the rest of all the manducator system and larynx id. Its position is often determined in relation to the cervical vertebrae. The main function of this bone is to provide a place of insertion for numerous indispensable muscles. Regardless, numerous studies concerning the hyoid bone have mainly focused on its use to hold in place the larynx, which is considered man's speech tool. and Crelin consider that the modern man can talk because his hyoid and larynx are located in a "low position" as the result of a downward shift from an "upper position". This upper position would be common to all Mammals, even apes, still considered by some scientists as man's origin. According to them, the hyoid and the larynx when located in this upper position do not allow for the physical possibility of speech. Today, this opinion is becoming more and more controversial. Our study on the adaptative advantages of cranio-laryngo-facial morphology proved that all positional relationships with the cervical vertebrae to determine the position of the Hyoid bone should be abandoned. In its place, we suggest the use of an anatomical and functional system of reference like the plane formed by the inferior border of the mandible. The position of the larynx I n modern humans is not due to the acquisition of articulated speech, but is the consequence of a long-term evolution. Indeed the position of the larynx is determined by embryology, anatomy and ontogenesis. You will conclude that it is not the result of a downward shift, whether you study big apes, quadruped Mammals or human fossils. Similarly in all these species the Hyoid bone is always located under the plane of the mandibular base and the gonion angle. This position is entirely independent of the cervical vertebrae. Our study showed that the position and the size of the Hyoid bone and the larynx are very similar among all specimen of the Homo genus and modern humans. We successfully reconstructed the position of the Hyoid bone and the larynx in ancient humans, despite their absence in fossils (the Hyoid and the larynx are entirely cartilaginous). The larynx and its associated components provided ancient humans with the physical ability to speak. Did they use articulated speech? The main organ of speech being the brain, our study cannot answer this question.
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [22 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Jean Granat <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 2:38:23 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 27, 2020 - 4:22:24 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, December 14, 2012 - 3:57:36 AM


Explicit agreement for this submission


  • HAL Id : hal-00731806, version 1


Jean Granat, Evelyne Peyre. La situation du larynx du genre Homo. Données anatomiques, embryologiques et physiologiques. Biométrie Humaine et Anthropologie - revue de la Société de biométrie humaine, SBH Société de Biométrie Humaine, Paris, 2004, 22 (3-4), pp.139-161. Granat J., La situation du larynx du genre Homo. ⟨hal-00731806⟩



Record views


Files downloads