The time line being developed on this blog puts much of speech’s origins occurring before the time around 500 thousands years ago when one part of the Homo line split toward the Neanderthal and another part moved toward Homo sapiens. After the split the sapiens line went its own way, possibly developed adolescence and ceremonial speech. But this story line would be rather different if Neanderthals and sapiens joined up again after a divorce of half a million years, with each contributing something to the final product.
It had seemed as though the matter was in the process of being settled. Neanderthals and humans: never the twain did meet (at least not for hanky panky). But lately there has been noise on the line and the story is getting tangled again. Last November Babel’s Dawn reported on a computation that a gene had entered the human genome through Neanderthals (see: Way Out of Africa) and now the news from the fossil world is going into full contradictory mode.