Re: Human Language. (long post)

Phillip Bigelow (
Fri, 03 Jan 1997 18:27:25 -0800

Thomas Clarke wrote:
> In article <> Michael McBroom <>
> writes:

> > ... I'll wager that otters, beavers, seals,
> > sea lions, walruses, dugongs, and manatees (did I leave any out?) all
> > use the standard plan vocal tract.

There is no standard plan vocal tract in aquatic animals (see below).

Tom Clarke wrote:
> Starting with a suggestion by Alistair Hardy she has written
> that much can be explained about the differences betweeen man
> and ape if an aquatic or semi-aquatic episode is postulated.
> Aquatic animals (think of pigs)

Pigs are not aquatic animals, and paleontologically, there is no
evidence that this clade was even semi-aquatic.

> In addition, "otters, beavers, seals, sea lions, walruses, dugongs,
> and manatees" etc tend to have a respiratory tract like that of humans.

Wrong. As for the lutrines, they have the conventional carnivoran
laryngeal/pharyngeal morphology. Beavers have the typical rodent
lar/phar morphology. Only SOME pinnipeds have a superio-inferiorly-
"relaxed" lar/phar morphology, which is NOT as similar to
the human descended structure as some believe. MOST pinnipeds
have a modified lar/phar structure that is different from land
arctoids, but it is more similar to land arctoids than it is
to humans.
Manatees have a laryngeal/pharyngeal structure that is different
from BOTH humans AND pinnipeds.
There is no definative "aquatic" larygeal/pharyngeal structure
common to aquatic or semi-aquatic animals to base such a claim on.

> I find Morgan's ideas interesting. For a more complete account see
> William Calvin's web page

And for a counter-argument, I am sure that Tom would heartily
recommend this URL:

I know that Tom, as well as I, like to analyze both sides of this

Happy New Year, everybody!