Human evolution language News

Fruit flies help us understand human communication

Spread the love

Or so some say. The flies themselves have never had anything to say.

From ScienceDaily:

The evolution of language in humans continues to perplex scientists and linguists who study how humans learn to communicate. Considered by some as “operant learning,” this multi-tiered trait involves many genes and modification of an individual’s behavior by trial and error. Toddlers acquire communication skills by babbling until what they utter is rewarded; however, the genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood. Now, using a gene identified in fruit flies by a University of Missouri researcher, scientists involved in a global consortium have discovered a crucial component of the origin of language in humans.

“One effective way of uncovering the root of language development is to study language impairment disorders that are genetically-based,” said Troy Zars, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU. “By isolating the genes involved, we can uncover the biological basis of human language. In 2007, our team discovered that a gene in the fruit fly genome was very similar to the human version of the Forkhead Box P (FoxP) gene and in our latest study, we have determined it is a major player in behavior-based, or operant, learning.”

It would help if fruit flies would be able to speak except that they can’t due to the aberrant gene. Alas, however …

These discoveries suggest that one of the roots of language can be placed 500 million years ago to an ancestor who had evolved the ability to learn by trial and error, the team said. More.

Us too. It took me hours to post to Uncommon Descent, due to 500 million years’ worth of animals who are now on Facebook and Twitter, generating huge traffic.

Also, I used to be a pixelboard on the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, but decided I wanted a simpler life. 😉 – O’Leary for News

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Leave a Reply