A Comparative Approach to the Non-Human Primate Vocal Tract: Implications for Sound Production

  • Miguel A. Schön Ybarra


Despite the fact that it is the vocal tract morphology what ultimately shapes the acoustic structure of the sounds used in vocal communication (see Lieberman, 1984), recent state-of-the-art publications on the subject of non-human primate communication have not been concerned with that morphology (e.g., Snowdon, Brown, and Petersen, 1982; Todt, Goedeking, and Symmes, 1988). To help fill the gap thus left in our comprehension of the biological bases of vocal communication in non-human primates, this chapter reviews current knowledge pertaining to the comparative and functional morphology of non-human primate vocal tract features that, because of their shape, structure, and location, can influence sound structure. Conceptually, the chapter is based on (1) known relationships among the human vocal tract anatomy, the movements of its walls, air flow patterns, and the production of speech sounds (see Lieberman and Blumstein, 1988; Pickett, 1980); (2) Hirano’s structural model for vocal fold vibrator capabilities (Hirano, 1974, 1991; Gray et al., 1993); (3) the source-filter theory of speech production as summarized by Lieberman and Blumstein (1988).


Nonhuman Primate Vocal Fold Vocal Tract Hyoid Bone Vocal Communication 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel A. Schön Ybarra
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy School of MedicineUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA

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