Research Shows Same Genes Control Speech in Humans and Birds (Video)

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December 21, 2014 Updated: December 21, 2014

Most people would assume that humans and birds don’t have much in common.

Now, a recent study has revealed that the genes that enable birds to sing are the same ones that allow humans to speak.

Erich Jarvis, a neuroscientist from Duke University, led the study which examined 48 different species of birds and mapped their genomes. It was discovered that a little more than 50 genes caused speech activity in the brains of humans and birds capable of learning song.

Among the samples taken, songbirds, hummingbirds and parrots were shown to have had the greatest vocal progression.

According to Jarvis, “This means that vocal learning birds and humans are more similar to each other for these genes in song and speech brain areas than other birds and primates are to them.”

Song patterns used by birds to learn how to sing are very similar to the way humans eventually learn speech. The same genes weren’t seen in non-vocal learning birds or non-human primates.

Through further research, more information is hoped to be gathered on the origins of human speech.

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