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Humankind’s Closest Relative Gorilla ‘Koko’ on a Verge of Speaking: Researchers

According to a new research conducted by Marcus Perlman and Nathaniel Clark, a gorilla named Koko exhibit vocal and breathing behavior that apes were not supposed to be able to achieve.

Koko, a 43 year old gorilla involved with human interaction since the age of 6-months, helps researchers who are studying the evolution of language and speech.

To understand the evolution of human language and speech since we diverged from our last common ancestor, it is very crucial research input about the vocal abilities of great Apes.

According to the research, authors learned that Koko exercises voluntary control over the performance of nine distinct Vocal and breathing-related behaviors (VBBs), which involve variable coordination of her breathing , larynx and supra-laryngeal articulators like the tongue and lips.

The authors examined large video of Koko and observed 439 vocal and breathing-related (VBBs) spread across 161 bouts.

Authors said,”Each of these behaviors is performed in the context of particular manual action routines and gestures. Based on these and other findings, we suggest that vocal learning and the ability to exercise volitional control over vocalization, particularly in a multimodal context, might have figured relatively early into the evolution of language, with some rudimentary capacity in place at the time of our last common ancestor with great apes.”

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