Biologists have noticed that the cries of orangutans are more like human than chimpanzees

(ORDO NEWS) — Orangutans are more likely to make consonant-like sounds than other great ape species.

Of all the great apes, orangutans lead the most arboreal lifestyle, while chimpanzees and bonobos, closer to humans, live almost all the time on the ground.

Due to their close relationship, chimpanzee calls were expected to be similar to human speech.

In addition, non-human primates mostly communicate with vowels, while humans communicate with consonants, which raises the question of the reason for this.

Adriano Lameira of the University of Warwick and colleagues compared the sound patterns in the repertoire of three major lineages of great apes: orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos and chimpanzees.

It turned out that gorillas and chimpanzees with bonobos use very few consonants.

So, consonants are in the repertoire of some gorilla populations, and some chimpanzees make one or two consonant sounds while grooming their bodies.

In contrast, wild orangutans use consonants everywhere and in a wide range of actions – as well as people.

According to scientists, such a complex repertoire is associated with the arboreal lifestyle of these monkeys.

“Orangutans mostly live in trees and get food there. In this position, at least one hand is constantly occupied and used to hold himself.

It is because of this limitation that orangutans have developed greater control over their lips, tongue, and jaw and can use their mouth as a “fifth hand” to hold food and maneuver tools.

Orangutans are known for only peeling an orange with their lips, so their oral control is far superior to that of African monkeys, and it has become an integral part of their biology,” explains Lameira.

From this, the authors of the work deduce the assumption that the ancestors of people could also develop an adaptation for speech, living in trees.


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