(ORDO NEWS) — British biologists have found that chimpanzees, when communicating with each other, make certain movements with their lips, whose rhythm surprisingly coincides with the rhythm of human speech. A new study suggests that this is the answer to the question of how human speech originated. The results are published in the journal Biology Letters.
Biologists have long and unsuccessfully sought the rudiments of speech in primates, but all previous studies have focused on studying the sounds made by anthropoids. The authors of this work suggested that human speech arose not so much in the process of evolution of sounds, but was based on the movements of the lips.
It is known that people all over the world, no matter what language they speak, during a conversation open their mouths two to seven times per second, with each cycle corresponding to a syllable. In gestures and facial expressions of the face of orangutans, macaques and chimpanzees, a certain rhythm is also observed.
Comparing videos of four pan troglodytes chimpanzee populations: two wild chimpanzees in Uganda and two captive chickens in zoos in the UK and Germany, researchers found that the lips of these primates move with an average “speech” rhythm of four “syllables” per second.
Interestingly, the rhythm in different animals sometimes differed by half. However, there were no significant differences in the average lip speed between captive populations and wild monkeys.
The authors suggest that “smacking” lips in chimpanzees plays the role of speech and serves to attract attention and convey their emotions and information. Combined with the special sounds that animals make when they care for each other, these rhythmic movements are an important element of communication and social interaction between individuals.
“Our findings support the hypothesis that ancient rhythmic signals of primates served to attract attention,” the head of the study, Adriano Lameira from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews in the UK, is quoted in a press release. – But anyway this remains an assumption until more detailed data on other primates is obtained. ”
Scientists plan to conduct such studies in the near future in combination with observations of social interaction in populations.
The authors understand that the evolutionary continuity of the appearance of speech in humans from primates has not yet been proven, but they believe that the results of their research will help in this matter. Now scientists will be able to track the development of this most important component of human communication, not only on the basis of vocal, but also gesture elements.
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