2 thoughts on “Episode 6 – Prehistoric speech and language

  1. I am a bit late in finding this podcast, so these comments may be fairly irrelevant. My mind couldn’t help but wonder if the 1970’s attempts to teach chimpanzees to speak are at all representative of their mental or even verbal capacity. In the days of human language evolution, necessity of better communication as well as a “group effort” would have been involved, not teaching via memory. Obviously the chimpanzee had its basic and social needs met regardless of utterance of words. Perhaps under evolutionary pressures of success/failure the animal would have learned more; perhaps if the group was attempting to achieve better communication the animal would have been able to become more creative with it or utilized the one or two individuals more gifted in this area; perhaps if this was a generational attempt successive chimpanzees would have been more successful… I’m aware that the study in itself is controversial for many reasons, but I was just allowing thoughts to wander about timelines and evolutionary process and intelligence capabilities.


    1. I quite agree with you. The study is highly circumstancial. The study itself is really a study into the cognitive skills of chimpanzees, however the chimpanzee is the closest extant equivalent we have to the australopithecine, and therefore the only thing we have in the modern world as a comparison. It could be hopelessly inaccurate when suggesting the communication abilities of australopithecines, so it is all supposition. Thank you for the feedback! Warm regards, Chris


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