Thursday, December 23, 2004

Monkey vocal ability investigated

Diana monkeys' vocal tracts may shed light on primate evolution and possibly lead to newfound meaning behind Michael Jackson's lyrics for 'Dirty Diana'

Diana monkeys possess a complex vocal tract whose shape can be adjusted to articulate sophisticated sounds - just as humans do, scientists report.

Non-human primates were thought to have vocal tracts resembling simple tubes incapable of sophisticated articulation.

But a British-US-German team reports in the Journal of Human Evolution that the alarm calls of Diana monkeys would be impossible without a complex tract.

It says the finding may shed light on how and when human speech evolved.

It is possible that some of the proto-structures in the throat required for talking were already present in our primate ancestors millions of years ago, the researchers argue.

Story here.

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