Nature released a new study today show compelling evidence of why humans can speak and animals cannot. From the Washington Post:
The findings, released online today and due for publication soon in the journal Nature, provide the most compelling evidence to date that the gene, which researchers described in detail only last year, may have played a central role in the development of modern humans' ability to speak. Researchers said that could have given them a critical advantage that allowed them to supplant more primitive rivals.
A mounting body of research suggests that the mutant gene conferred on human ancestors a finer degree of control over muscles of the mouth and throat, possibly giving those ancestors a rich new palette of sounds that could serve as the foundation of language.
The article goes on to say scientest may try to insert the mutated gene into mice, but doubt it will work. Animal Farm, anyone? ;-) At the very least we'll have a bunch of squeaky "cheeses" if it works. Sorry for being so cheesey .....okay I'll shut up.
Neat stuff, this is something I've always wondered about.