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Ideas Globe > Society/Culture > Communications



Our ape lineage is great at communicating, using multimedia symbols, gestures, expressions and sounds that include the songs and pair-bonding dances of gibbons, the moaning wails of orangutans, the twittering of bonobos, the chest-slaps of gorillas and the pant-hoots of chimpanzees. Our own species, though, has a mutated forebrain that can handle the computer needs of true language, in which blarney and blather, incantations, poetry, lies, songs and truth-telling bond us into clans and ethnicities through which we can each make a try for prosperity and posterity. It is communication that makes us greater than the sum of our species' parts, giving us the opportunity to organise against the greatest threats. As we teeter towards the gulf of doom, we can at least share each others' fears. But maybe we can hope for much more. A billion heads are better than one, and there are already more of us than that using the Internet. - By Dr Julian Caldecott