Re: Are we "special"?

Gerrit Hanenburg (
Sat, 07 Dec 1996 10:01:21 GMT (Paul Crowley) wrote:

>I'd agree that "millions" is too much; such a figure could not
>possibly be achieved in the timescale under any evolutionary
>scenario. Regulatory genes must be extensively involved.
>However, the figure must be at least in the tens or thousands,
>and possibly hundreds of thousands, and any figure like that
>presents almost insuperable problems for a *serious* paleo-

Your figures are a wild guess and do not take into account that
heterochronic processes such as hypermorphosis or neoteny can be
caused by mutation in only a few genes.
A threefold increase in the relative size of the neocortex can be the
result of a such a heterochronic process.

>> The basic organization of the human CNS is not dramatically different
>> from that of a chimpanzee.

>This is a factual, physical matter, and hopefully someday soon
>we'll get a good answer from geneticists or neurologists.
>However, I feel that you are quite wrong, and that there are
>dramatic differences. One way of looking at it is to consider
>the work our CNS does: a language-learning capacity is inbuilt,
>but all attempts to establish the rules for this capacity have
>made little progress. They are far to complex. One reflection
>of this is the hopeless inadequacy of all language translation
>programs, even though they incorporate tens of thousands of
>rules and millions of lines of code.

Which only means that we do not yet understand how brains in general
do it. But that ignorance is not limited to human brains. Bonobos have
a language-learning capacity too (Kanzi) but we don't know how it
works with them either.