Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 19:05 UK

Grunting fish speech clues


A fish that hums and growls has helped scientists to estimate the origins of speech to about 400 million years ago.

The nocturnal midshipman fish lives off the coast of the US and Canada. Here, a male uses a series of grunts to scare off another male who is close to his nest.

Scientists discovered that the area of the fish's brains that drives this vocalization is extremely primitive and this ability would have emerged very early in the evolution of vertebrates.

The research is published in the journal Science.

Footage courtesy of Andrew Bass and Margaret Marchaterre, Cornell University


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