Talking apes may be about to leap from the world of science fiction to the world of science fact, reports the Independent:
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Researchers have identified speech patterns in a gorilla, previously thought to be impossible for apes.
A gorilla named Koko became famous for her ability to learn sign language in order to communicate with her keepers. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say that she is now displaying signs of being capable of speech.
Traditionally, it has been believed that vocal performance by apes has been limited to spontaneous noise expressed, for instance, at shock of seeing a predator or to intimidate a fellow mammal in a fight.
It was believed that beyond this, apes lacked the cognitive capacity and breathing control to engage in organised and premeditated speech.
Postdoctoral researcher Marcus Perlman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nathaniel Clark at the University of California analysed 71 hours of video footage of Koko’s behaviour.