Categories: Intelligence

“Dishonest signalling” may be humankind’s first attempt to speak


“Dishonest signalling” describes an animal making a sound which portrays itself as bigger than it really is. Often the purpose is to attract mates. It sounds like human behaviour doesn’t it? Humans often exaggerate to impress.

Early human skull. Wikipedia

In this instance, however, researchers say that their preliminary findings published in the journal Biology Letters may shed some light on how humans learned to speak.

It is believed that “dishonest signalling” was a strategy which may be the first evolutionary step towards learning how to make new sounds of any sort. I immediately understood this. If an animal or creature like an early form of homo sapiens wanted to impress he woud have to create a sound which achives that goal (amongst other behaviors). It is the effort and the motivation which over time results in a new sound being created.

If early humans achieved that then it is logical to argue that they were able progress to another phase and create another sound. And so perhaps in creating a sound described as dishonest signalling early humans kickstarted the beginnings of an evolutionary journey towards a full-blown language.

This is another example of how the human-animal is very similar to other animals. I recently wrote an article today about how we are similar to the common rat in some instances. It is ironic that we are because we so persecute the rat due to speciesism.

The research was led, I believe, by Maxime Garcia of the Department of evolutionary biology and environmental studies at the University of Zürich.

We believe that a “dishonest signalling” strategy may be a first evolutionary step towards learning how to make new sounds of any sort. Speculatively, it brings us closer to understanding human speech evolution: our ancestors may have learnt how to speak after learning how to sound bigger or how to hit high notes.


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