Lemur Vocal Communication and the Origin of Human Language


To shed light on the evolution of human language, many studies have been made on the vocal communication of nonhuman primates. These studies have revealed that some rudimentary properties of human language can be seen in nonhuman primate vocal communication. In particular, much knowledge about the natural vocal communication of primates has accumulated since the method of playback experiments was established. For example, referential signaling (Zuberbuhler et al. 1999), categorical perception of vocalization (Masataka 1983), acoustic “rules” regulating vocal exchange (Sugiura 1993), and flexibility of vocal production (Sugiura 1998) have been found in some primate species in natural habitats. However, most of these studies have been conducted on the anthropoid primates. There have been relatively few studies on vocal communication in prosimians, including the lemurs of Madagascar, which are indigenous to the island and have evolved separately. Because of their uniqueness, the lemurs are important species as subjects for comparative studies of primate vocal communication.


Nonhuman Primate Joint Attention Alarm Call Vervet Monkey Playback Experiment 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryo Oda
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesNagoya Institute of TechnologyNagoyaJapan

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