From monkey alarm calls to human language: how simulations can fill the gap

Noble, Jason, de Ruiter, J.P. and Arnold, Kate (2010) From monkey alarm calls to human language: how simulations can fill the gap. Adaptive Behavior, 18, (1), 66-82. (doi:10.1177/1059712309350974).


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Observations of alarm calling behaviour in putty-nosed monkeys are suggestive of a link with human language evolution. However, as is often the case in studies of animal behaviour and cognition, competing theories are under-determined by the available data. We argue that computational modelling, and in particular the use of individual-based simulations, is an effective way to reduce the size of the pool of candidate explanations. Simulation achieves this both through the classification of evolutionary trajectories as either plausible or implausible, and by putting lower bounds on the cognitive complexity required to perform particular behaviours. A case is made for using both of these strategies to understand the extent to which the alarm calls of putty-nosed monkeys are likely to be a good model for human language evolution.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/1059712309350974
ISSNs: 1059-7123 (print)
Keywords: individual-based modeling, language, communication, evolution, alarm calls, primates
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions : Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering > Electronics and Computer Science > Agents, Interactions & Complexity
ePrint ID: 267672
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
February 2010Published
25 January 2010Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2009 00:59
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:15
Further Information:Google Scholar

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