Right-handed chimpanzees provide clues to the origin of human language

Nov 16, 2009

Most of the linguistic functions in humans are controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere. A study of captive chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Atlanta, Georgia), reported in the January 2010 issue of Elsevier's Cortex, suggests that this "hemispheric lateralization" for language may have its evolutionary roots in the gestural communication of our common ancestors. A large majority of the chimpanzees in the study showed a significant bias towards right-handed gestures when communicating, which may reflect a similar dominance of the left hemisphere for communication in chimpanzees as that seen for language functions in humans.

A team of researchers, supervised by Prof. William D. Hopkins of Agnes Scott College (Decatur, Georgia), studied hand-use in 70 captive over a period of 10 months, recording a variety of communicative gestures specific to chimpanzees. These included 'arm threat', 'extend arm' or 'hand-slap' gestures produced in different social contexts, such as attention-getting interactions, shared excitation, threat, aggression, greeting, reconciliation or invitations for grooming or for play.

The gestures were directed at the human observers, as well as toward other chimpanzees.

"The degree of predominance of the right hand for gestures is one of the most pronounced we have ever found in chimpanzees in comparison to other non-communicative manual actions. We already found such manual biases in this species for pointing gestures exclusively directed to humans. These additional data clearly showed that right-handedness for gestures is not specifically associated to interactions with humans, but generalizes to intraspecific communication", notes Prof. Hopkins.

The French co-authors, Dr. Adrien Meguerditchian and Prof. Jacques Vauclair, from the Aix-Marseille University (Aix-en-Provence, France), also point out that "this finding provides additional support to the idea that speech evolved initially from a gestural communicative system in our ancestors. Moreover, gestural communication in apes shares some key features with human language, such as intentionality, referential properties and flexibility of learning and use".

More information: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/cortex

Source: Elsevier

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mabarker
1 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2009
Soft science strikes again! The darwinian way is to watch chimps gesture and then write an evolutionary story that would link them with us (using a truckload of extrapolation). *. . . apes shares some key features with human language, such as intentionality, referential properties and flexibility of learning and use* How can you argue against this soft science? It's too subjective.
Menawhile, the master-switch Foxp2 gene is uniquely human (i.e. not carried in the chimp) that aids in our speech. See Callaway's article in the Nov. 09 issue of New Scientist. Human speech has always been human speech and didn't *evolve* from grunts of a chimp.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2009
Soft science strikes again
Looked pretty solid to me.
The darwinian way is to watch chimps gesture and then write an evolutionary story that would link them with us
Since we ARE related to them it is reasonable to use them as a model. Which is all they did.
How can you argue against this soft science? It's too subjective
You COULD argue against it easily if it wasn't true. It wasn't soft and it wasn't exactly subjective. Long observation of chimps have made it clear that they communicate via gestures as well as through sound.
Menawhile, the master-switch Foxp2 gene is uniquely human (i.e. not carried in the chimp) that aids in our speech
And somehow you think that stops chimps from gesturing to communicate then. Talk about soft thinking.
Human speech has always been human speech and didn't *evolve* from grunts of a chimp
What evidence do you have to support that claim? It seems based on soft thinking.

Any chance of you actually discussing this?

Ethelred
mabarker
1 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2009
Ethyl Red: This subjective story looks *solid* to you because you actually believe in macroevolution - it's the only show in town. Because of this BELIEF, you proclaim, *Since we ARE related to them . . .* Are we?

*Long observation of chimps have made it clear that they communicate via gestures as well as through sound* you say. So? How does that make them supposedly related to us?

Humans speech has always been h.s. & Ethyl Red says, *What evidence do you have to support that claim?* Are you serious? Show me all the chimps that are close to speaking any language. I then went on to show 1 of the indications that h.s. is unique is found in protein products of the Foxp2 gene, whereupon Ethyl Red does ad hominem attack.

Chimps gesturing with their right hand doesn't come close to providing evidence that we are supposedly related. Furthermore, on the genetic level the Foxp2 gene indicates the unique nature of human speech, making altered proteins that are not carried by chimps.
mabarker
1 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2009
E.Red says, *any chance of you actually discussing this?* You bet! Let's start with a secular book, In Not a Chimp: The hunt to find the genes that make us human, which was reviewed in New Scientist magazine, evolutionist Jeremy Taylor investigated not only the genetic distinctions between humans and apes, but also the behavioral, neurological, and other scientific findings that together led him to conclude that a view that *chimps are practically human* based on their *98.4%* genetic similarity is *nonsense.*
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2009
*Since we ARE related to them . . .* Are we?
The genetic evidence is pretty clear. The only reason to believe otherwise is religion.
How does that make them supposedly related to us?

The genetic evidence is clear. Because the genetic evidence is so clear chimps makes a good model for humans. Which is what I said in the first place.
Are you serious?
Of course. What evidence? I know that you think the Bible qualifies but I don't agree on that.
Show me all the chimps that are close to speaking any language.
The ones that were taught sign language.
h.s. is unique is found in protein products of the Foxp2 gene
Which in no way shows the chimps are incapable of communication via gesture.
whereupon Ethyl Red does ad hominem attack
Try quoting the alleged attack. Pointing out soft thinking is not ad homonym.

Continued

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2009
Chimps gesturing with their right hand doesn't come close to providing evidence that we are supposedly related.
Where did I make such a claim? I said "genetic evidence". Please stop putting words in my mouth.
Furthermore, on the genetic level the Foxp2 gene indicates the unique nature of human speech
Which proves what? That we aren't chimps? I know that. We are related. Closely.
Not a Chimp
Ah, another source of out of context quotes for you.
led him to conclude that a view that *chimps are practically human* based on their *98.4%* genetic similarity is *nonsense.*
Well that is his conclusion, and if I used that dubious comparison of "practically human" you would have a point. However I never made such a claim. Nor have most rational thinkers. Close to human genetically is in no way the same as practically human.

So you used the book to create another straw man argument. Did you think I wouldn't notice?

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2009
Jeremy Taylor's blog
http://notachimp.blogspot.com/

Recent posts by Jeremy
Right-Handed Chimps Provide Clues To The Origin Of Human Language
Fair Play In Humans, Monkeys And Apes
Do Chimps Understand Beliefs?

Oh yes and this one.
FOXP2 Gene And Ramifying Roots Of Language

And you made it up when you claimed the gene is unique to humans. Chimps have the same gene. It has EVOLVED through mutations and natural selection but is clear that the chimp and human gene have a common ancestral gene.

He seems to agree with me that we are in fact related to chimps. That studying them makes sense. So I don't see how quoting him out of context will make the world young or make evolution go away.

Are you ever going to answer this question?
Are you a Young Earth Creationist?

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 24, 2009
E.Red says, *any chance of you actually discussing this?* You bet!


One out of context quote and then the usual scarpering off does not constitute a discussion. I am still waiting to see you actually discuss things instead of this sort of hit and run crap.

I gave you six days to reply. Now I am pointing out that you said you would discuss it but instead just ran off. As usual.

Ethelred