London: Speech perception is not a uniquely human trait, chimps may have the ability to understand language too - humans just get more practice, a new study has revealed.
Scientists have always considered that one of the basic differences that distinguish humans and their closest evolutionary cousins, chimpanzees, has been the ability to perceive and process speech.
But probably that might not be the case as the scientists now suspect that a ‘common ancestor’ of chimps and humans evolved with the capacity for speech.
They have claimed that human ability to perceive and process speech is based on the early experience with language that allows them to process and perceive speech.
“Humans maybe do not perceive speech because they are human, but instead because of the tremendous amount of experience they have with it from birth,” the Daily Mail quoted Lisa Heimbauer, a researcher at Georgia State University’s Language Research Centre as saying.
The new research with a 25-year-old chimp, Panzee, showed that he could ‘interpret’ highly distorted speech sounds - in a way similar to humans.
Panzee can also interpret symbols, and can understand more than 100 spoken and digitised words including a symbol for his own name.
First Published: Wednesday, November 02, 2011, 14:22