Baboons' Lip-Smacking: Precursor to Speech?
Geladas of Ethiopia smack their lips to make human-like sound
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2013 5:01 PM CDT
Loading... Please wait

(Newser) – Might this be a hint of how human speech came to be? Researchers at the University of Michigan say wild monkeys of Ethiopia known as geladas smack their lips together and make gutteral noises to produce a sound like our speech, reports PBS. The pattern of these "wobbles" follows the same rhythm as human speech, say the scientists in Current Biology. The male geladas, cousins of the baboon, appear to use the noises to communicate in friendly interactions, reports GlobalPost.

"Our finding provides support for the lip-smacking origins of speech because it shows that this evolutionary pathway is at least plausible," says the lead researcher. "It demonstrates that nonhuman primates can vocalize while lip-smacking to produce speech-like sounds." A Princeton prof not involved with the study called it "incredible," though not proof of a direct link to human speech.

View 2 images
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Baboons' Lip-Smacking: Precursor to Speech? is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 14 comments
Apr 15, 2013 8:49 AM CDT
Possibly unrelated to an adjoining story, but their lip smacking could be because of arsenic found in many beers.
Apr 10, 2013 3:55 PM CDT
What's the big deal; politicians have been doing it since the 50's - it's a precursor to lying to get saliva in their mouth. Been going on for decades; some say it started with Nixon, but he blames it on Eyesandhair. Mr. Baboon may pop up on the ballot next election if they can get rid of the NRA. Appears he already has relatives in DC.
Apr 10, 2013 9:00 AM CDT
And that's how Skrillex got the idea to make dubstep...