The Body Language of Bonobos and the Evolution of Human Language

Researchers have catalogued body language in bonobos, providing key insight into the evolution of human language. … More The Body Language of Bonobos and the Evolution of Human Language

Koko, Washoe, and Kanzi: Three Apes with Human Vocabulary

(A long discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) In the last 40 years, there have been many apes that have been taught to communicate with humans using sign language or other means, but the most famous among them are Koko the gorilla, Washoe the chimpanzee, and Kanzi the bonobo. These are … More Koko, Washoe, and Kanzi: Three Apes with Human Vocabulary

The “Trimates,” The Founding Mothers of Primatology

Science moves so fast in our modern era that we forget how young some scientific disciplines really are. Darwin founded evolutionary biology just over 150 years ago. Mendel did the same for modern genetics around the same time, although his work didn’t blossom (pardon the pun) until several decades later. The scientific study of animal behavior didn’t really … More The “Trimates,” The Founding Mothers of Primatology

Genes Found that May Explain Expansion of Higher Brain Function in Homo sapiens

In the study of human evolution, one conundrum has always vexed us: how did humans evolve such powerful brains? Few Differences in Chimp and Human DNA The genome of Homo sapiens is remarkably similar to those of  our closest extant relatives, the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the pigmy chimpanzee, or bonobo (Pan paniscus). On the sequence level, we … More Genes Found that May Explain Expansion of Higher Brain Function in Homo sapiens

Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary

(A longer discussion of animal communication is found in my book.) Human language seems so much more complicated and organized than anything experienced by animals. Nevertheless, animals do indeed communicate complex ideas using precise, intentional communication. Some primate species even have discrete audible words with unambiguous meanings. In other words, they have their own spoken languages and … More Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary