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Rapid evolution of the primate larynx?


Abstract

Tissue vibrations in the larynx produce most sounds that comprise vocal communication in mammals. Larynx morphology is thus predicted to be a key target for selection, particularly in species with highly developed vocal communication systems. Here, we present a novel database of digitally modeled scanned larynges from 55 different mammalian species, representing a wide range of body sizes in the primate and carnivoran orders. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we demonstrate that the primate larynx has evolved more rapidly than the carnivoran larynx, resulting in a pattern of larger size and increased deviation from expected allometry with body size. These results imply fundamental differences between primates and carnivorans in the balance of selective forces that constrain larynx size and highlight an evolutionary flexibility in primates that may help explain why we have developed complex and diverse uses of the vocal organ for communication.

Abstract

Tissue vibrations in the larynx produce most sounds that comprise vocal communication in mammals. Larynx morphology is thus predicted to be a key target for selection, particularly in species with highly developed vocal communication systems. Here, we present a novel database of digitally modeled scanned larynges from 55 different mammalian species, representing a wide range of body sizes in the primate and carnivoran orders. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we demonstrate that the primate larynx has evolved more rapidly than the carnivoran larynx, resulting in a pattern of larger size and increased deviation from expected allometry with body size. These results imply fundamental differences between primates and carnivorans in the balance of selective forces that constrain larynx size and highlight an evolutionary flexibility in primates that may help explain why we have developed complex and diverse uses of the vocal organ for communication.

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11 citations in Scopus®
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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
490 Other languages
590 Animals (Zoology)
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Neuroscience, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:11 August 2020
Deposited On:12 Oct 2020 09:39
Last Modified:24 Mar 2024 03:00
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1544-9173
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000764
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)