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Neanderthals sang opera, says researcher

Spain,Science/Tech, Fri, 01 Feb 2013 IANS

Barcelona, Feb 1 (IANS/EFE) Neanderthals sang opera, British archaeologist Steven Mithen, originator of the theory that music was used as a form of pre-linguistic communication by these pre-historic people, told EFE.

"The musicality of the Neanderthals can be identified more with opera than with rap because in addition to music, these hominids also used dance and body language as forms of communication," said Mithen, author of "The Singing Neanderthals".

"Rap is associated with a particular type of music based on words and phrases, something the Neanderthals lacked," Mithen said.

Mithen helped open a lecture series Thursday on "Music and Its Impact on the Body and Mind" at the CosmoCaixa exhibition center.

The lecture series is being organized jointly with the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research, or IDIBELL.

"Neanderthals did not adopt a hierarchical position in their songs," Mithen said.

Human beings evolved about 100,000 years ago in Africa and later developed spoken languages, but the modern individuals who spread into the Middle East, Asia and Europe 50,000 years ago encountered Neanderthals, who still communicated using ancient musical forms, Mithen said.

"Modern human beings used language, which was a more efficient form of communication, and they could also invent better technology, while the Neanderthals were gradually pushed out toward extinction," the University of Reading researcher said.



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