I know I haven’t posted anything for a while but I’ll get back into the swing of things very soon, I promise. Now that writing a dissertation is out of the way, I thought I’d write a little something about muscles, namely how they work and how they can be specialised for a particular function.
I gave you all a crash course in muscle anatomy a few posts ago, so if you haven’t read it yet, it’s a great place to start. And here’s a picture to jog your memory:
Figure 1. A schematic diagram of a muscle’s microstructure. Credit: medicalpicturesinfo.com
Arguably the most unique ability of humans is the ability to communicate highly complex concepts, for which we need language. But language can mean many things, from sign language to writing, although the most efficient form of language we have is speech – a skill unique today to living modern humans. The apes have a remarkable capacity for language and communication: Kanzi the bonobo (fig. 1) has a working knowledge of perhaps thousands of words and Koko the gorilla understands and uses American Sign Language. But they are unable to speak. Why is this? What are differences between human and ape anatomy that allow us to produce these sounds, and what selection pressures may have driven the evolution of our highly specialised anatomy?
Figure 1. Kanzi the bonobo with his lexigram sheets that he uses to communicate on a day-to-day basis. Credit: Great Ape Trust.