Microbes provide insights into evolution of human language

The bacteria used combinatorial communication, in which two signals are used together to achieve an effect that is different to the sum of the effects of the component parts. This is common in human language. For example, when we hear ‘boathouse’, we do not think of boats and houses independently, but of something different — a boathouse.

This type of communication had never been observed in species other than humans and some other primates, until colonies of Pseudomonas aeruginosa were shown to be using the same technique — not, of course, with spoken words but with chemical messengers sent to each other that signalled when to produce certain proteins necessary for the bacteria’s survival.

Read the entire article from ScienceDaily….

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