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Human Traits Roundup

August 17, 2007

Scientists gain insights into two essentially human traits: walking and talking.


How humans learned to hold their heads up. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Researchers are gaining insights into the most human of traits: walking and talking. In one study, scientists had chimpanzees walk on a treadmill using both their normal knuckle-walk and an upright gait. They found that while knuckle-walking was the most energy-efficient for most of the chimps, two of them actually did just as well walking upright. These chimps had hips and hind limbs more like those of some early humans. The scientists speculate that when climate change forced early hominids to walk further to find food, those who could walk upright had an advantage that got passed down to us.
Duke scientists have discovered music hidden in speech. Every human sound is made up of several notes combined. The researchers found that the spaces between these notes mirror the scales used in music. That could be why music sounds so compelling. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.