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The Evolutionary Emergence of LanguageEvidence and Inference$
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Rudolf Botha and Martin Everaert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654840.001.0001

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Talking about apes, birds, bees, and other living creatures: language evolution in light of comparative animal behaviour

Talking about apes, birds, bees, and other living creatures: language evolution in light of comparative animal behaviour

Chapter:
(p.204) 11 Talking about apes, birds, bees, and other living creatures: language evolution in light of comparative animal behaviour
Source:
The Evolutionary Emergence of Language
Author(s):

Kathleen R. Gibson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654840.003.0011

This chapter suggests that great apes remain the most appropriate study subjects for the reconstruction of the cognitive and communicative capacities of basal hominins, but that studies of other animals remain essential for understanding the selective pressures that led from ape-like to modern human abilities. Comparisons of the behavioural capacities of a broad sweep of animal species yields a tentative model of early hominid adaptations compatible both with current understandings of great ape cognition and with the ultimate development of the most adaptively versatile species on earth: Homo sapiens. It further suggests that continuing debates with respect to differences of kind versus degree may largely be a matter of focus and interpretation. Modern human behaviours that seem vastly different from those of apes (i.e., differences in kind) may often actually reflect increases in information processing and hierarchical organizational capacities.

Keywords:   great apes, communication, language evolution, basal hominins, ape cognition

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