From Grunting To Gabbing: Why Humans Can Talk


Most of us do it every day without even thinking about it, yet talking is a uniquely human ability. Not only do humans have evolved brains that process and produce language and syntax, but we also can make a range of sounds and tones that we use to form hundreds of thousands of words.


To make these sounds — and talk — humans use the same basic apparatus that chimps have: lungs, throat, voice box, tongue and lips. But we're the ones singing opera and talking on the phone. That is because over thousands of years, humans have evolved a longer throat and smaller mouth better suited for shaping sound.


Read the rest or listen to the story on NPR.

Tags: evolution, language, linguistics, speech, talking, vocalization

Views: 7

Replies to This Discussion

I have always liked the theory that the physical adaptations for speech came first, as adaptations for nonlinguistic singing (similar to birdsong) and the semantic communication evolved later as a neural kludge. If I recall correctly, this idea came about at least in part from PET studies that found that the speech processing areas appeared to be adapted from the visual areas of the cortex and not from the areas that actually controlled the throat and mouth, and from a desire to explain how so many interdependent adaptations could arise independently.

Sean, I think it is a safe bet that the physcial adaptations came first. As for the speech areas adapted from the visual areas of the cortex, well, that would make a lot of sense in a way, and could be true. I'm not a scientist, but I believe their are two visual processing areas of the brain -- the consciouss processing in the occipatal lobe and the unconscious processing in the medial-posterior side of the temporal lobe (I think).

 

But our language skills sort of reside all over, so it is hard to say for sure.

 

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

Latest Activity

Dr. Allan H. Clark replied to Thomas Pietrocarli's discussion What if God revealed himself to you?
8 minutes ago
Joseph P replied to dudaboli yev's discussion David Silverman Debate Mormons on Religion, Morality and Science. in the group ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN
11 minutes ago
sk8eycat replied to Thomas Pietrocarli's discussion What if God revealed himself to you?
31 minutes ago
Dr. Allan H. Clark replied to Dr. Allan H. Clark's discussion Atheism and the Holocaust: Primo Levi and Os Guiness
40 minutes ago
Freethinker31 commented on Martin A. Moe, Jr's blog post Is Religion the Offspring of Evolution?
42 minutes ago
Dr. Allan H. Clark replied to Dr. Allan H. Clark's discussion Atheism and the Holocaust: Primo Levi and Os Guiness
44 minutes ago
Dr. Allan H. Clark replied to Dr. Allan H. Clark's discussion Atheism and the Holocaust: Primo Levi and Os Guiness
51 minutes ago
Michael Penn replied to Thomas Pietrocarli's discussion What if God revealed himself to you?
1 hour ago
Future replied to Thomas Pietrocarli's discussion What if God revealed himself to you?
1 hour ago
dudaboli yev liked dudaboli yev's discussion David Silverman Debate Mormons on Religion, Morality and Science.
1 hour ago
dudaboli yev added a discussion to the group ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN
1 hour ago
Michael Penn commented on Martin A. Moe, Jr's blog post Is Religion the Offspring of Evolution?
1 hour ago

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service