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Language evolved from chimp-like call signals, not hand gestures?


Only in New Scientist

For example, the loud alarm “huus” calls and even louder “waa” barks were more likely to be produced in the presence of a friend rather than a non-friend. And when the team tracked the gaze of the alarm-calling chimp,they found the animal watched the other chimps around them as they reacted.

Crucially, they found that the alarm huus and waa barks continued until all other chimps were a safe distance from the snake, suggesting the cries were goal-directed, and not merely an automated fear-response.

“Chimpanzees seem to produce these calls tactically and target important individuals who are valuable to them,” the team write in the paper.

(A competing theory suggests that language evolved from hand gestures.)

Two problems come to mind: These are, as another researcher pointed out, alarm signals, not conversation. One might add that it is not clear why such a system would develop into a language. Many animal species behave the same way as chimps, and the alarm signals never seem to have developed into a language.

Principally, one supposes, for the same reasons that my household alarm system never developed into an entertainment centre. – O’Leary for News

Language is simply segregated combinations of sounds agreed upon for meaning of thoughts. If evolution wants to see sounds evolve into language then it requires FIRST a great agreement of how to organize diverse sounds. The chimps must have first many sounds to mean many things and this is not that way today with chimps. We are so fantastic at using sounds in combinations that first must of come complex ideas. Yet to have complex ideas, way beyond animals, and still needing to organize sounds to articulate these ideas seems impossible as a scenario. Language is complex and demands a complex thinking being. evolution must say again The chicken or the egg. Our language is just sounds and not many but its organization is from complicated thinking beings. Robert Byers
I've been censored from WhyEvolutionIsTrue, but perhaps the fine professor will see this from one of his who watches the UD site. ayearningforpublius
I just read a laugher from Jerry Coyne at http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/new-comic-about-evolution-and-natural-selection/ where there is a series of cartoons purporting to explain evolution to kids. The panels show that humans and chimps are closely related to one another. However, a proper completion of such a comparison would be a couple of additional frames: one in which a well dressed human is sitting in a beautiful cathedral reading a book taken from a long bookshelf of books. He's reading this with a pleased look on his face while off towards the front is a full concert orchestra and choir singing Handle. Throughout the cathedral are beautiful paintings, statuary, stained glass windows, and of course the magnificent architecture, artistry and craftsmanship of the cathedral itself. The next cartoon panels shows the chimp sitting in the dirt under an acacia tree with a twig in his hand picking worms from a decaying log. I think the kids would understand the difference. ayearningforpublius

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