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Eldorado

The unlikely origin of the human voice

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Eldorado

The voice of every animal (including birds, dogs, lions, sheep, seals, frogs, cats, chimpanzees, mice, us) shares at least two traits in common: they are sounds powered by the lungs and emitted through the mouth; and every voice (barks, whinnies, whines, chirps, squeals, meows, ribbits, roars, the State of the Union address) derives from a common ancestor, an animal we don’t ordinarily associate with voice: fish.

To understand how this could possibly be so, we must travel to a time around 530 million years ago, when the first fish evolved. Like their living descendants, these ancient fish sustained life by extracting oxygen from the water and expelling CO2 with a specialised membrane that lines the inside of the throat: gills.

BBC Science Focus: Link

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