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The riddle of how ancient humans first began to speak may have been solved.
It was invented to help them mess about in boats, a leading academic controversially suggests.
Ancestor - Homo - Erectus - Step - Years
Our earliest ancestor Homo Erectus took a huge step forward by walking upright just like us one 1 million years BC.
But while he could walk the walk, he has never been believed to talk the talk.
Language - Capabilities
Language was not thought to have been within his capabilities.
This view is based on both anatomy – he did not have a bone in his throat called the hyoid which anchors the tongue like Homo Sapiens.
The best he would do would be to grunt and howl, it's usually been thought.
Language is thought to have begun with the arrival of Homo Sapiens that language began.
Rethink - History - Homo - Erectus
Now a radical rethink of history says Homo Erectus must have been able to speak.
As without language he could never have been able to build the boats needed to reach remote islands across mighty oceans.
Speech - Species - Man - World - Numbers
Without speech, the primitive species of man would not have been able to sail the world in large numbers to populate the planet.
Daniel Everett, Professor of Global Studies, at Bentley University, Massachusetts made the claims at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Technology - Species - Answer - Language - Homo
He said: 'What is the greatest technology we have ever had as a species, the answer is language. Who invented it? Homo Erectus, about one million years ago or more. Those are controversial claims.'
'Everybody talks about Homo Erectus as a stupid ape-like creature, which of course describes us just as well, and yet what I want to emphasize is that Erectus was the smartest creature that had ever walked the Earth.'
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