MAY 08, 2018 4:36 PM PDT

Do Chimpanzee Vocalizations Have Anything in Common With Human Speech?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Chimpanzees and humans are closely related, and consequently, researchers have long thought that there might be a connective link between chimpanzee vocalizations and human speech.

Chimpanzees communicate with one another in their own unique way, but are there any similarities between their communication methods and human speech?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Minnesota were captivated by this long-standing theory and decided to investigate more thoroughly. To do that, they recorded chimpanzee vocalizations with handheld microphones and digital recorders and compared them with archived chimpanzee vocalization records.

Unsurprisingly, decoding the cryptic vocalizations was no easy task.

"Chimpanzees give a range of different calls: hoots, pant-hoots, pant-grunts, pant-barks, rough-grunts, nest-grunts, alarm barks, waa-barks, wraas, screams, copulation screams, and soft panting play sounds (a.k.a. laughter)," explained associate professor Michael Wilson from the University of Minnesota.

"Many of these calls grade into one another, and it can be difficult to categorize particular examples of some calls."

Related: Can you beat a chimpanzee at a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors?

Chimpanzee vocalizations exhibit specific characteristics that can provide insight into their meanings; among those are factors such as vocalization duration and sound frequency. These are some of the things that the researchers paid particular attention to while performing their analysis.

The full results of the study have not been publicized just yet, but the team will announce their findings in their entirety during the 175th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota this week.

Nevertheless, all indicators suggest significantly more differences between chimpanzee vocalizations and human speech than initially thought. That said, the original theory that chimpanzee vocalizations paved the way for human speech may not hold any water.

Related: Chimpanzees may not be as strong as originally thought

"This is surprising, given that chimpanzees resemble us in so many other ways. But it seems that the key events in language evolution occurred well after the divergence of the chimpanzee and hominin (primate) lineages. In this case, language likely evolved due to uniquely human circumstances."

Related: Chimpanzees use hand gestures to convey distance with others

It should be interesting to see more details concerning the team’s findings. But for now, researchers will need to dig deeper if they wish to understand how our ancestors developed complex speech.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 20, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
The History of Lettuce Domestication Told Through DNA
APR 20, 2021
The History of Lettuce Domestication Told Through DNA
The more we know about the genetic history of food crops, the more prepared we'll be to maintain their growth through en ...
MAY 22, 2021
Plants & Animals
This Lizard Blows Bubbles to Breathe Underwater
MAY 22, 2021
This Lizard Blows Bubbles to Breathe Underwater
Scientists say it's the biological version of the rebreathers than human divers use to conserve and recycle their oxygen ...
MAY 28, 2021
Plants & Animals
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
MAY 28, 2021
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
An analysis of over 50 years of data reveals that with the help of their social group, orphaned mountain gorillas do jus ...
JUL 18, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Genetic Analysis Reveals Cannabis First Grown in China
JUL 18, 2021
Genetic Analysis Reveals Cannabis First Grown in China
Genetic analysis of over 100 cannabis Sativa genomes has revealed that the plants’ wild ancestors likely came from ...
JUL 28, 2021
Plants & Animals
Is This the Oldest Animal Ever Found?
JUL 28, 2021
Is This the Oldest Animal Ever Found?
Professor Elizabeth C. Turner of Laurentian University may have discovered the oldest animal fossil ever, as reported in ...
AUG 03, 2021
Plants & Animals
Teeth Record Life's Stressful Events in Primates
AUG 03, 2021
Teeth Record Life's Stressful Events in Primates
New research suggests stressful physical and social events leave permenant lines on your teeth.
Loading Comments...