Monkeys known as macaques possess the vocal anatomy to produce “clearly intelligible” human speech but lack the brain circuitry to do so, according to new research.
The findings – which could apply to other African and Asian primates known as Old World monkeys – suggest that human speech stems mainly from the unique evolution and construction of our brains, and is not linked to vocalization-related anatomical differences between humans and primates, the researchers reported Dec. 9 in the journal Science Advances.
Co-corresponding author Asif Ghazanfar, a Princeton University professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, said that scientists across many disciplines have long debated if – and to what extent – differences between the human and primate vocal anatomy allow people to speak but not monkeys and apes.
“Now nobody can say that it’s something about the vocal anatomy that keeps monkeys from being able to speak – it has to be something in the brain. Even if this finding only applies to macaque monkeys, it would still debunk the idea that it’s the anatomy that limits speech in nonhumans,” Ghazanfar said. “Now, the interesting question is, what is it in the human brain that makes it special?”
Stayed up super late making this for @fuckyeahkasumisty. I tried really hard on it, and a wonderful friend of mine helped me draw Finn because god knows I can’t draw him at all for some reason… But I just really hope that this could brighten your day up even by a little bit.