Thursday, 29 October 2009

Primate Communication

Human language is one of our most remarkable capacities. Trying to discover how this ability evolved is an extremely difficult challenge as spoken language has left no fossil remains. One way to approach this problem is to compare human communication to non-human primate communication. This allows us to identify elements of language that evolved a long time ago and are shared with other primates and those which are novel inventions that are unique to humans.

Katie Slocombe has undertaken a great deal of research into primate communication. This has involved some quite unusual fieldwork and lends itself wonderfully into a talk packed with entertaining tales from the jungle and a number of quite strange noises (some of which are made by Katie herself!). Katie has also put together an interactive game that you will be invited to play to see how well you would survive as a chimpanzee.

At the British Science Festival this year Katie was awarded the Charles Darwin Prize. This was particularly fitting as we are celebrating Darwin200 this year. It is 200 years since Darwin was born and 150 years since the groundbreaking publication of Darwin’s ‘On the origin of species’. Charles Darwin gathered the evidence that living things change over time - they evolve. Since his time, this idea has formed the basis for the science of biology. Darwin also suggested how evolution happens; his discovery of evolution by natural selection has been called "the single best idea anyone has ever had".
As part of the festivities marking these anniversaries The Manchester Museum are holding a Darwin Extravaganza all the way through to August 2010.

Audience: Families (11+)
Venue: The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, M13 9PL
Date: Saturday 31st October
Time: 2 – 3 pm

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