Monkeys Have the Vocal Cords to Talk, Lack the Brain Power

Monkeys have the physiology to talk but lack the brain to do it, according to a new study. Researchers examined how monkeys moved their their vocal chords with X-rays, to understand how monkeys communicate. Scientists compared those results to what it would sound like if monkeys could talk and say “Will You Marry Me”. The results of the study revealed that monkeys have the physiology to talk like humans but, like the brain power to do so.

Researchers have long believed that monkeys were unable to talk like humans because they lacked the anatomy to do so. But, a new study published in the journal “Science Advances” suggest that the macaque monkey does have the anatomy to communicate like a human. However, their limitations are marked by their decreased brain power.

Monkeys Can Talk
Stock Photo: Bukit Merah, Malaysia – 23 Jun 2015 : Tourist taking picture of baby Orang Utan at Orang Utan Conservation Island in Bukit Merah, Perak. (Abd. Halim Hadi /

University of Vienna cognitive biologist and researcher in the talking money study, Tecumseh Fitch, argues that anatomical physiological limitations are just a myth. “My colleagues and I all get very tired of seeing this. But you see it in all the textbooks. Lots of popular books, and also scholarly books about the evolution of language, assume that in order to evolve speech we had to have massive changes in our vocal tract. ”

Fitch and his team of researchers analyzed a macaque monkey named Emiliano and discovered the monkey was able to make five different vowel sounds, which are the most common vowels in human languages from around the world. Ultimately, Fitch asserts a monkey’s inability to hold full-long conversations comes from monkey’s brain circulatory system.

macaque monkey
Monkeys have the physiology to talk but lack the brain to do it, according to a new study. (glazok90/

Fitch argues that a monkey’s brain does not have direct connections from the brain to the parts that control communication such as the vocal chords. The lack of a complete  and direct connection system, which makes it difficult for monkeys to reiterate what humans are saying.

“As soon as you had a brain that was ready to control the vocal tract,” Fitch says, “the vocal tract of a monkey or nonhuman primate would be perfectly fine for producing lots and lots of words.”


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