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Our ability to speak

I've started reading the book 'Guns, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond. The author attempts to paint a picture as to why certain regions evolved more prosperously while certain didn't, why technological and cultural advancements occurred in one region while they didn't in another and in general, how our world came to be. It's a grand attempt by a single author in a single book but it's been an impressing journey so far. I'm still in the first chapter of the first book and my brain is already starting to go off on tangential questions.

A brief mention of the fact that the ability to produce sounds to communicate set me off on thinking how such a complex system evolved from rudimentary animal sounds. Human learning is largely biased towards visual and hearing cues. While visual cues such as writing or a sign language can be complex and do impart a large amount of information, even before one learns the ability to write or read one develops the ability to speak and listen. And as i am writing this, I am wondering if muscle memory is how we gain the ability to speak, memory which is reinforced as we speak and listen. This sounds (seems) like a very interesting field to me all of a sudden!

A rudimentary google search led to the a wiki page on the origin of speech, two articles on the human vocal apparatus and a brief summary of a review paper on the human vocal tract. And finally, a paper on the evolution of the human vocal apparatus in the cell journal.

On a different note, these blog posts are turning out to be a good place to tag and leave articles for future reference. There's a lot I need to be explore in science and while I can't read into them right now, the least I can do is mark them hoping for future me to look back at these posts.

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