A groundbreaking new study is making a bold claim about monkeys ability to speak, or their lack thereof.
In a huge new discovery that could forever change how we understand our own ability to speak, scientists have discovered the monkeys have the vocal anatomy to create words just like humans. They made this discovery while examining macaques, finding that their vocal structure was very similar to humans, according to the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances.
The findings suggest that it is not having vocal chords of a certain structure that enables mankind to speak, but rather the ability to control those vocal chords. That flies in the face of previous theories on talking that scientists had held to, and what prompted them to examine monkeys in this way in the first place.
It’s a fascinating finding not just for curiosity’s sake, but also because the fact that macaque monkeys have the vocal tract that makes them capable of a spoken language could lead to a better understanding of how we ourselves evolved the ability to speak and communicate with each other, which in turn could result in medical advancements down the road.
“Now nobody can say that it’s something about the vocal anatomy that keeps monkeys from being able to speak — it has to be something in the brain. Even if this finding only applies to macaque monkeys, it would still debunk the idea that it’s the anatomy that limits speech in nonhumans,” Co-corresponding author Asif Ghazanfar, a Princeton University professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, said in a statement. “Now, the interesting question is, what is it in the human brain that makes it special?”