AA  Vol.5 No.2 , May 2015
Origin of Human Language in an Evolutionary Context: Evolution-Progression Model
Abstract: This article approaches what is considered to be a linguistic enigma with an interdisciplinary scientific approach. In this manuscript, the author analyzes the infant developmental stage, human anatomy, animal behavior studies, and anthropological changes. Furthermore, prominent theories in the field, such as the provisioning model, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) theory, and the metabolic hypothesis for human altriciality are considered in an evolutionary context to unravel the origin of language. First, two evolutionary adaptations in humans, bipedalism and delicate muscle movements, resulted in the lack of a need for “hyperfocus”. Second, a relatively safe and rich environment replaced “hyperfocus” with social cohesion. Third, a burgeoning social interaction ushered in natural selection, whereby child helplessness or early parturition supported exceptional self-consciousness (intelligence). The result of concentrated self-consciousness, which involved enlargement of the posterior parietal cortex (sense of self), prefrontal cortex (social cognition), and temporal lobe (language interpretation), was human language. Language was not a sudden revelation; instead, it was a gradual process and a built-in part of the evolutionary sequence. Last, this article implies how language might have begun in accordance with the prior multidisciplinary analysis.
Cite this paper: Ko, K. (2015). Origin of Human Language in an Evolutionary Context: Evolution-Progression Model. Advances in Anthropology, 5, 67-85. doi: 10.4236/aa.2015.52007.

[1]   Adriani, W. (2012). Special Focus Box: Evolutionary Perspectives on ADHD. In C. Stanford, & R. Tannock (Eds.), Behavioral Neuroscience of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Its Treatment. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

[2]   Allen, J. S., Bruss, J., & Damasio, H. (2006). Looking for the Lunate Sulcus: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study in Modern Humans. The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology, 288A, 867-876.

[3]   Arcos-Burgos, M., & Acosta, M. T. (2007). Tuning Major Gene Variants Conditioning Human Behavior: The Anachronism of ADHD. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 17, 234-238.

[4]   Arensburg, B., Tillier, A., Vandermeersch, B., Duday, H., Schepartz, L., & Rak, Y. (1989). A Middle Palaeolithic Human Hyoid Bone. Nature, 338, 758-760.

[5]   Banting, E. (2003). Australia: The Culture. New York: Crabtree.

[6]   Bar, M., & Neta, M. (2006). Humans Prefer Curved Visual Objects. Psychological Science, 17, 645-648.

[7]   BBC (2013). Vietnam Pair Coaxed out of Jungle. Retrieved 16 December 2014.

[8]   Binns, C. (2006). Case Closed: Apes Got Culture. Retrieved 15 February 2015.

[9]   Bird, C., & Emery, N. (2009). Rooks Use Stones to Raise the Water Level to Reach a Floating Worm. Current Biology, 19, 1410-1414.

[10]   Boffey, D. (2014). Children’s Hyperactivity “Is Not a Real Disease”, Says US Expert. Retrieved 5 October 2014.

[11]   Bond, A. B., Kamil, A. C., & Balda, R. P. (2003). Social Complexity and Transitive Inference in Corvids. Animal Behaviour, 65, 479-487.

[12]   Bond, Y. (2013). Fast French for Busy People: A Step-by-Step Program to Learn French in 24 Hours. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

[13]   Boysen, S. (1999). Q&A-PBS. Retrieved 26 August 2014.

[14]   Brunet, M., Guy, F., Pilbeam, D., Mackaye, H. T., Likius, A. et al. (2002). A New Hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Nature, 418, 145-151.

[15]   Callaway, E. (2008). Did Hyperactivity Evolve as a Survival Aid for Nomads? New Scientist.

[16]   Campbell, B. G. (205). Humankind Emerging. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

[17]   Carmody, R. N., Weintraub, G. S., & Wrangham, R. W. (2011). Energetic Consequences of Thermal and Nonthermal Food Processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 19199-19203.

[18]   Carvalho, S., Biro, D., Cunha, E., Hockings, K., Mcgrew, W., Richmond, B., & Matsuzawa, T. (2012). Chimpanzee Carrying Behaviour and the Origins of Human Bipedality. Current Biology, 22, R180-R181.

[19]   Choi, C. Q. (2007). Chimps Do Numbers Better than Humans. Retrieved 17 December 2014.

[20]   Crockford, C., Wittig, R., Langergraber, K., Ziegler, T., Zuberbuhler, K., & Deschner, T. (2013). Urinary Oxytocin and Social Bonding in Related and Unrelated Wild Chimpanzees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280, 20122765.

[21]   Darwin, C. (1981). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[22]   Dean, C., Leakey, M., Reid, D., Schrenk, F., Schwartz, G., Stringer, C., & Walker, A. (2001). Growth Processes in Teeth Distinguish Modern Humans from Homo erectus and Earlier Hominins. Nature, 414, 628-631.

[23]   Diamond, J. (1998). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

[24]   Dingemanse, M., Torreira, F., & Enfield, N. J. (2013). Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items. PLoS ONE, 8, e78273.

[25]   Dudzinski, K., & Frohoff, T. (2008). Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

[26]   Dunsworth, H., Warrener, A., Deacon, T., Ellison, P., & Pontzer, H. (2012). Metabolic Hypothesis for Human Altriciality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, 15212-15216.

[27]   Eisenberg, D., Campbell, B., Gray, P., & Sorenson, M. (2008). Dopamine Receptor Genetic Polymorphisms and Body Composition in Undernourished Pastoralists: An Exploration of Nutrition Indices among Nomadic and Recently Settled Ariaal Men of Northern Kenya. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8, 173-173.

[28]   Emery, N. J. (2004). The Mentality of Crows: Convergent Evolution of Intelligence in Corvids and Apes. Science, 306, 1903-1907.

[29]   Everett, D. (1986). Piraha. In D. C. Derbyshire, & G. K. Pullum (Eds.), The Handbook of Amazonian Languages, Vol I. Mouton de Gruyter.

[30]   Everett, D. L. (2009). Pirahã Culture and Grammar: A Response to Some Criticisms. Language, 85, 405-442.

[31]   Fonseca-Azevedo, K., & Herculano-Houzel, S. (2012). Metabolic Constraint Imposes Tradeoff between Body Size and Number of Brain Neurons in Human Evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, 18571-18576.

[32]   Gallup Jr., G. G. (1970). Chimpanzees: Self Recognition. Science, 167, 86-87.

[33]   Gibbons, A. (2007). Food for Thought. Science, 316, 1558-1560.

[34]   Gill, F. B. (2003). Ornithology. New York: W.H. Freeman.

[35]   Goodall, J. (1986). The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

[36]   Guenevere, M. & Kaplan, H. (2007). Longevity amongst Hunter-Gatherers. Population and Development Review, 33, 321-365.

[37]   Haggard, P. (2009). The Sources of Human Volition. Science, 324, 731-733.

[38]   Harcourt, A., Stewart, K., & Hauser, M. (1993). Functions of Wild Gorilla “Close” Calls. I. Repertoire, Context, and Interspecific Comparison. Behaviour, 124, 89-122.

[39]   Hartmann, T. (1995). ADD Success Stories. Grass Valley, CA: Underwood Books.

[40]   Hawks, J. (2013). How Has the Human Brain Evolved over the Years? Scientific American Mind, 24, 76.

[41]   Hughes, D., & Hulse, A. (2001). Gorillas among Us: A Primate Ethnographer’s Book of Days. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

[42]   Inoue, S., & Matsuzawa, T. (2007). Working Memory of Numerals in Chimpanzees. Current Biology, 17, R1004-R1005.

[43]   Jerison, H. J. (1973). Evolution of the Brain and Intelligence. New York: Academic Press.

[44]   Johnson, L. E. (1993). A Morally Deep World: An Essay on Moral Significance and Environmental Ethics (p. 27). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

[45]   Kluger, J. (2010). Inside the Minds of Animals. What Animals Think.

[46]   KÖhler, W. (1929). Gestalt Psychology. New York: Liveright.

[47]   Krubitzer, L., & Disbrow, E. (2008) The Evolution of Parietal Areas Involved in Hand Use in Primates. In J. Kaas, & E. Gardner (Eds.), The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference. Volume 6, Somatosensation (pp. 183-214). London: Elsevier.

[48]   Laver, J. (1994). Principles of Phonetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[49]   Mathevon, N., Vergne, A., & Aubin, T. (2013). Acoustic Communication in Crocodiles: How Do Juvenile Calls Code Information? The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133, 3257-3257.

[50]   Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., & Crowell, E. W. (2000). Learning Disabilities and ADHD: Overlapping Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33, 417-424.

[51]   McComb, K., Baker, L., & Moss, C. (2006). African Elephants Show High Levels of Interest in the Skulls and Ivory of Their Own Species. Biology Letters, 2, 26-28.

[52]   McCroskey, J. C., Wrench, J. S., & Richmond, V. P. (2003). Principles of Public Speaking. Indianapolis, IN: The College Nework.

[53]   McHenry, H. M. (2009). Human Evolution. In M. Ruse, & J. Travis (Eds.), Evolution: The First Four Billion Years (p. 263). Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

[54]   Miller, E. K., Freedman, D. J., & Wallis, J. D. (2002). The Prefrontal Cortex: Categories, Concepts and Cognition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 357, 1123-1136.

[55]   Miller, G. (2005). What Is the Biological Basis of Consciousness? Science, 309, 79-79.

[56]   Mithen, S. (2006). Ethnobiology and the Evolution of the Human Mind. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 12, S45-S61.

[57]   Munck, O., & Lassen, N. (1957). Bilateral Cerebral Blood Flow and Oxygen Consumption in Man by Use of Krypton85. Circulation Research, 5, 163-168.

[58]   Nelson, C. A. (2000). The Neurobiological Bases of Early Intervention. In J. P. Shonkoff, & S. J. Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention (2nd ed., pp. 204-228). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

[59]   Nestler, E. J., Hyman, S. E., & Malenka, R. C. (2009). Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience. New York: McGraw-Hill, Medical Pub. Div.

[60]   Nosowitz, D. (2013). This Cat Did Not Figure Out How Mirrors Work.

[61]   O’neill, T. (2013). Why All Babies Say “Mama”.

[62]   Pagel, M. (2009). “Oldest English Words” Identified.

[63]   Peters, R. (2006). Ageing and the Brain. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 82, 84-88.

[64]   Pika, S., & Bugnyar, T. (2011). The Use of Referential Gestures in Ravens (Corvus corax) in the Wild. Nature Communications, 2, 560.

[65]   Poole, J. (1996). Coming of Age with Elephants: A Memoir. New York: Hyperion.

[66]   Prior, H., Schwarz, A., Güntürkün, O., & Waal, F. (2008). Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition. PLoS Biology, 6, E202.

[67]   Proctor, D., Williamson, R., Waal, F., & Brosnan, S. (2013). Chimpanzees Play the Ultimatum Game. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110, 2070-2075.

[68]   Raffaele, P. (2014). History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places. Smithsonian.

[69]   Sackett, R. (1996). Time, Energy, and the Indolent Savage: A Quantitative Cross-Cultural Test of the Primitive Affluence Hypothesis. Ph.D. Dissertation, Los Angeles, CA: University of California.

[70]   Sahlins, M. (1968). Notes on the Original Affluent Society. In R. B. Lee, & I. DeVore (Eds.), Man the Hunter. New York: Aldine Publishing Company.

[71]   Schaik, C. (2006). Why Are Some Animals So Smart? Scientific American, 294, 64-71.

[72]   Scholz, M., D’AoÛt, K., Bobbert, M., & Aerts, P. (2006). Vertical Jumping Performance of Bonobo (Pan paniscus) Suggests Superior Muscle Properties. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273, 2177-2184.

[73]   Schwartz, J. H. (1988). Orang-Utan Biology. New York: Oxford University Press.

[74]   Scott, M. (2013). Corollary Discharge Provides the Sensory Content of Inner Speech. Psychological Science, 24, 1824-1830.

[75]   Shattuck, R. (1980). The Forbidden Experiment. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

[76]   Smith, K. (2007). Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain (pp. 21, 194-199, 349). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[77]   Smith, L. G. (1984). Lives in Education: People and Ideas in the Development of Teaching. Ames, IA: Educational Studies Press.

[78]   Sockol, M., Raichlen, D., & Pontzer, H. (2007). Chimpanzee Locomotor Energetics and the Origin of Human Bipedalism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 12265-12269.

[79]   Suwa, G., Kono, R. T., Simpson, S. W., Asfaw, B., Lovejoy, C. O., & White, T. D. (2009). Paleobiological Implications of the Ardipithecus ramidus Dentition. Science, 326, 94-99.

[80]   Videan, E., & McGrew, W. (2002). Bipedality in Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and Bonobo (Pan paniscus): Testing Hypotheses on the Evolution of Bipedalism. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 118, 184-190.

[81]   Wada, J., & Rasmussen, T. (1960). Intracarotid Injection of Sodium Amytal for the Lateralization of Cerebral Speech Dominance. Experimental and Clinical Observations. Journal of Neurosurgery, 17, 266-282.

[82]   Walker, A. (2009). The Strength of Great Apes and the Speed of Humans. Current Anthropology, 50, 229-234.

[83]   Wildman, D. E. (2003). Implications of Natural Selection in Shaping 99.4% Nonsynonymous DNA Identity between Humans and Chimpanzees: Enlarging Genus Homo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100, 7181-7188.

[84]   Wise, S. M. (2002). Drawing the Line (pp. 93-108). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

[85]   Wolchover, B. (2011). Chimps vs. Humans: How Are We Different? Retrieved 16 January 2015.

[86]   Wong, K. (2012). Helpless by Design? Scientific American, 307, 28.

[87]   Wrangham, R. (2009). Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. New York: Basic Books. Wrangham, R., & Carmody, R. (2010). Human Adaptation to the Control of Fire. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 19, 187-199.