Lately, I have been working on the way a group of humanoids vocalizes. In the anatomy of vocalization, I have recently asked about and explored some variation in vocal cords.

The hyoid bone typically ossifies in six places in humans; in lesser cats, studies have shown it is fully ossified and this may be what allows them to purr. What is observed in big cats shows that they do not have a fully ossified hyoid.

How would having a hyoid more like that of a big cat expand the humanoid's vocal range? Would this prevent them from using human languages understandably? Would they be able to roar?

  • $\begingroup$ This might be better asked on biology.SE (with the first paragraph removed). Note that even if it were to allow humans to purr, what would we lose? $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 2:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is fully ossified in humans as well, the number of ossification points just tells you how many bones go into making it. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ @John It usually is, but in some people, it is not fully ossified. $\endgroup$
    – Cas
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 3:10

1 Answer 1


The human hyoid and larynx is very unique in position and shape and is essential for speech, changing it drastically will likely prevent speech entirely. But let's be clear humans have one of the widest vocal ranges known outside birds, we can roar it just not what you want. Humans can produce a "roar", it is not a complicated sound. We just do not have the volume, lung capacity, or resonating chamber to make one that is actually intimidating, ours are not deep, loud, nor prolonged. Basically a singer with a deep bass regularly produces a human roar.

Gorilla can roar they would be your best model for the getting humans to roar with the least change, but will likely result in the loss of speech as well, especially sounds in the high pitch ranges. So no matter what you do roaring as I think you want and speech are probably incompatible in a human throat and jaw (possibly at all), so how human are your humanoids.

Ossification itself is not essential for speech, children with unossified hyoids can still speak although it likely lessensen their range and may not work in a larger adult larynx where the hyoid is subjected to more stress.


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