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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Walk Before You Talk--or Chuckle
21 June 2001 7:00 pm
TORONTO--Watching chimps at play has led one researcher to conclude that humans must have started walking upright before they developed speech. A quadruped's breathing apparatus, according to a report here on 17 June at the American Psychological Society meeting, makes it impossible to talk and run at the same time.
Most laughter research is done on humor, said developmental neuroscientist Robert Provine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. But his research focuses on laughter's relationship to social relationships and play. This led Provine to Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta, where he observed what he believes is the evolutionary precursor of human laughter: the "ritualized panting" of chimps during play.
Chimps have to take a separate breath for each gasp, Provine notes, while humans can burst out with a "ha-ha-ha" all in one expiration. He also noted that when quadrupeds run they have to take a breath with every step, which makes it impossible to develop the sophisticated respiratory control necessary for speech. Thus, he says, bipedality, which allowed "the redirection of breathing in the service of soundmaking," enabled humans to evolve speech.
Other researchers have tied bipedality to speech for different reasons. Philip Lieberman of Brown University in Providence, who studies the evolution of the human vocal tract, says Provine's theory fits with his own research. Brain structures that regulate bipedal locomotion are also essential in regulating speech, he says. Thus walking on two legs may have helped shape the brain in a way that was later used for speech and syntax.