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What Is the Hyoid Bone?

The hyoid bone, unlike most of the bones in the human body, is not directly connected to any other bone but is held in suspension by web of ligaments and muscles. The hyoid bone is located beneath a person’s tongue. Its purpose is to provide the tongue with support, allowing for humans to properly vocalize many different sounds, giving human enough oral flexibility and variation to orate and sing at with such intensity and variability.

About 300,000 years ago the hyoid bone first appeared the hominids, also observed in the hominids was a deeper settling of the larynx in the throat, referred to as larynx drop. Larynx drop is a human development where the larynx moves deeper into the throat as a human leaves the early stages of childhood. Without this approximately quarter of a million year old bone it would be impossible for humans to converse as they do today, that would in-turn make nearly impossible to understand other people. Imagine trying to get through a full day having only a combination of loud, soft, long, and short “noises” for communication, terrible.

The hyoid bone also referred to as the lingual bone due to its function in speech. The origin of the name hyoid is the Greek “hyoeides”, meaning upsilon-shaped. The Greek character upsilon is like the Aracbic letter U but with little legs on wither side making it look like an H with really tiny feet. The hyoid bone has 3 main portion the greater cornu, lesser cornu, and the body. Using the letter H as a reference the three parts of the hyoid bone may be related as such; greater cornu to the upper half of both vertical lines, lesser cornu to the lower half of both vertical lines, and the horzontal line along with the middle part of both vertical lines for the main body.

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