When did humans first make music? © Getty Images

When did humans first make music?

Our ancestors may have been singing tunes for as long as they were able to speak.

Asked by: Margaret Hutt, Amersham


The oldest discovered musical instruments in the world (flutes made of bones and mammoth ivory) are over 40,000 years old. But instruments and song may be far, far older. In his book The Descent Of Man, Charles Darwin wondered whether our language abilities had started with singing, and if that was the reason for our pleasure in music.

By studying fossils, we can establish that once our ancestors had the horseshoe-shaped hyoid bone in the throat in a similar position to modern humans, they would have had the physical ability to sing as we can. That date is over 530,000 years ago.

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