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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
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The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
Until recently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) kept its plans for its $70 million portion of the...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
- 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.