An orangutan named Tilda is providing scientists with fresh evidence that even early human ancestors had the ability to make speechlike vocalizations.
Tilda has learned to produce vocalizations with striking similarities to human speech, scientists report in the journal PLOS ONE. If you listen without knowing the source, “you might wonder whether or not it is a human,” says Rob Shumaker, an author of the paper and vice president of the Indianapolis Zoo.
The finding could help answer a big question about our human ancestors’ ability to produce speech before they developed a modern vocal tract and brain. If orangutans and other great apes can make speechlike sounds, it stands to reason that early humans could too, Shumaker says.
She spent so much time with humans that she learned how to smoke cigarettes? [??!!] BAD Orang! bad! bad!
But she still never learned anything but babble?
Maybe in her supposed next life, she will come back as a parrot. Apparently, just learning stuff one doesn’t really get is easier for a bird.
Meanwhile, for a serious look at the issues, see: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
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