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Vocal Production System: Evolution

The evolution of the human vocal production system (i.e., the biological origin of humans’ ability to speak) is a subject that has attracted a lot of attention because language and speech are central to human communication, cognition, and identity. However, ideas regarding the origins of speech and language tend to be controversial, as they entail reconstructing very ancient historical processes with very limited data. Nevertheless, new discoveries and increased interdisciplinary interaction since 2008 provide a reasonably clear picture of what may have evolved, when this could have happened, and especially what questions are probably unanswerable and what questions are worth investigating. This entry provides a brief overview of the up-to-date knowledge of the evolution of human vocal production, discussing several aspects of human anatomy, behavior, ...

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