Baboons use vowels similar to ours

After an acoustic analysis it has been discovered that baboons, a medium-to-large-sized primate, of terrestrial habits that rarely climb trees, they make five sounds similar to the vowels.

To make this finding, Louis-Jean Boë and his colleagues from the University of Grenoble Alpes, in France, had to acoustically analyze grunts, roars, copulation calls and baboon conversations. In total, 1,335 spontaneous vocalizations produced by 15 male and female baboons in different social contexts were analyzed

The mystery of speech

If you have ever considered it unfair or an error of evolution that we choked so easily when drinking a glass of water or that we cannot breathe and drink at the same time, you may ignore that This is the tribute we have all paid to have the gift of speech.

If we looked at the radiograph of the lower part of a child's skull, jaw and neck, we would observe a small "U" shaped bone. It is the hyoid, which floats in the throat and serves as an anchor for the muscles that connect the jaw, larynx and tongue. As the baby grows, the larynx moves down the throat, and with it so does the hyoid bone.

The path between the lips and the pharynx then becomes a right angle instead of being a smooth curve. This repositioning of the larynx will allow you to have a much larger vocal range.

Therefore, a predominant idea about the origin of speech is that the low human larynx is required to be able to produce different vowel sets and that the high larynx of nonhuman primates prevents them from producing the vowels present in human languages. Therefore, scientists believe that language originated relatively recently, in the last between 70,000 and 100,000 years.

But what the study of Louis-Jean Boë, which has been published in Plos One, is that these monkeys also use tongue movements to form each of the vowel-like sounds.

Baboons cannot speak, they cannot produce vowels in a strict sense, but they are capable of producing a vocalization system with vowel-like sounds.

Together, these findings suggest that the language spoken in people may have evolved from the articulatory capabilities that our last common ancestor with baboons already possessed, which is estimated to be about 25 million years ago.