Origin of Vertebrate Sound
An artist's representation shows the midshipman fish singing to attract a mate.
Researchers mapped developing brain cells in newly hatched midshipman fish larvae and compared them to those of other species and found that the neural network behind sound production in vertebrates can be traced back through evolutionary time to an era long before the first animals ventured onto dry land. The neural circuitry that enables human beings to verbally communicate--and birds to sing and frogs to ribbit--was likely laid down hundreds of millions of years ago with the hums and grunts of fish.
This image accompanied NSF press release, "Sorry, Charlie, You and Nemo Aren't the Only Fish That Talk."
Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
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