Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism (Introduction)

by dhw, Wednesday, May 08, 2019, 09:46 (17 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Before humans developed spoken language there were massive anatomic changes compared to the earliest homos: a dropped pharynx. a protective epiglottis, an arched pallet, special tongue and lip muscles and their brain controls, along with specialized breath controls. All of this appeared before speech. None of this was caused by a need for survival and certainly not driven by environmental demands. In fact none of the development of human characteristics are clearly environmentally driven. Yes, they descended from trees, but that may well have been a voluntary choice to which they then adapted.

As usual you try to make it sound like a fact that all the changes took place BEFORE the actions were possible, whereas I keep proposing that the changes took place BECAUSE the actions were required. (There is no way anyone can possibly prove either hypothesis.) It makes no difference whether a group of primates was forced to descend by environmental change or had a great idea and decided to to venture forth voluntarily. Once the environment had changed, the adaptations were either necessary or desirable to improve their chances of surviving in the new environment. And I would suggest that the new way of living REQUIRED better means of communication, and that the cell communities responded to that need as our ancestors invented new sounds – much as legs would have turned to flippers as the pre-whale cell communities responded to the need for more efficient movement in the water. I propose that it is the effort to make the required changes that causes the cells to restructure themselves – as opposed to a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme suddenly being switched on, or your God popping in to do some surgery on a group of pharynxes, epiglottises, palates, tongues, lips and brains, with a final announcement: “Now thou canst speak.”

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