The story of humanity's prehistoric expansion across the planet is recorded in our genes. And, apparently, the story of the spread of language is hidden in the sounds of our words. That's the finding of a new study, which concludes that both people and languages spread out from an African homeland by a similar process┐and that language may have been the cultural innovation that fueled our ancestors' momentous migrations.
All branches of science search for origins. Biologists want to know how life on earth began. Astronomers want to know how the universe got started. Even in mathematics, questions about how different numerical systems came to be constitute a legitimate line of inquiry.
Chimpanzees and bonobos can communicate with greater flexibility using hand gestures than they can with facial expressions or vocalizations, new research shows. Their use of hand motions to convey different meanings in different circumstances suggests that gestures may have played an important part in the evolution of language.
Using an ingenious approach involving virtual robots that possess evolvable genomes, researchers have identified key factors that may play important roles in determining the manner in which communication arises during the evolution of social organisms.