Pushing the origin of speech back by 20 million years

A new study finds evidence of an important neural speech pathway in macaques.

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  • Researchers find traces of something like our arcuate fasciculus in macaque brains.
  • Since the last ancestor we shared with macaques was 25-30 million years ago, this would push speech way back.
  • The study suggests human speech began in the auditory cortex and eventually extended to include the executive-function areas of the brain.
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Evolution: That famous ‘march of progress’ image is just wrong

Some fish evolved legs and walked onto the land. Right?

DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/De Agostini via Getty Images

Evolution explains how all living beings, including us, came to be. It would be easy to assume evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms, constantly increasing their complexity.

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Men vs. women: Why we’re imagining equality all wrong

It's possible to seek equality without seeking sameness.

  • Males and females as a population, on average, are different. Beyond obvious differences in reproductive systems, research has shown measurable differences between the sexes in areas such as linguistic capabilities.
  • Evolutionary biologist Heather Heying argues that while males and females should be equal under the law, that does not mean that their differences should be ignored. "We should seek equality without seeking sameness."
  • People should be given the freedom to make choices, not forced to engage in activities in the name of equality.
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Capuchin monkeys have refined their tool use over 3,000 years

Not only do these monkeys use tools, they're developing new, better tools to adapt to their environment.

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  • Archaeologists dug into the ground of an area of a Brazilian national park known to be frequented by capuchin monkeys.
  • They found that over the past 3,000 years, the stone tools that the monkeys use have evolved and changed, marking the first time this kind of development has been observed in a non-human species.
  • The findings underscore the intelligence of the capuchin monkeys and serve as a parallel to our own development.
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Lightning forced human ancestors to become bipedal, Kansas researchers say

Intense lightning could have burned us out of the trees.

Photo credit: YE AUNG THU / AFP / Getty Images
  • A new paper proposes that a couple of supernovae led to the loss of our tree habit, forcing us down to the savannah.
  • The telltale clues are iron-60 isotopes and lots of unexplained charcoal and soot in the geologic record.
  • The theory is an intriguing combination of astronomy, physics, geology, and anthropology.
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