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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- 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.