The University of Alcalá in Spain virtually reconstructed Neanderthals’ ears using medical imaging software and CT scans of their skulls. According to the researchers, the models indicate that the extinct species had the same physical capacity to hear as modern humans. Mercedes Conde-Valverde, one of the scientists, said that their hearing was optimized towards producing consonants like “s”, “k”, “t”, and “th” — phonemes that appear in our modern languages too.
The scientist also inferred that the Neanderthals could also make the same sounds we can, but have not confirmed whether they spoke a language. This virtual reconstruction technique was used to study speech and hearing in other ancient humans and chimps.