Monday, 20 August 2012

Grandma Lucy Could Not Speak

New research suggests that Lucy’s voice sounded like today’s monkeys.

Joel Kontinen

While natural history museums present Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) as our grandmother, she obviously could not walk upright like we do. She had long curved hands that were well suited for hanging from tree branches.

Recent research highlights another ape-like feature in Lucy: She was unable to articulate like humans, but uttered sounds that an ape would make.

Bart de Boer, a researcher at Vrije University in Brussels, built a plastic model of Lucy’s vocal tract. An expert on the evolution of speech, de Boer concluded that Lucy could not speak the way we do, but sounded more like today’s monkeys.


Neimark, Jill. 2012. Big Idea Bring Ancient Voices Back to Life. Discover Magazine (9 August).