The ancestors of language look to be very widespread.

Researchers have been considering the sounds made by 53 species previously identified as ‘non-vocal’. They include turtles, tortoises and lungfish. It turns out that all these species make a vast range of different sounds on a fairly frequent basis. The sounds do not appear to be random and are certainly not rare. It is not clear yet whether such sounds are for purposes of communication. That is the next step for researchers. But it looks increasingly as if the evolution of language, albeit without the complexities of human language, started a long time ago. More and more it looks as if thought (as in knowledge and reasoning) and language go back a long way whilst consciousness is rather more recent – very wrong to confuse consciousness with either thought or language.

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