Given enough time, could gorillas evolve language?

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Offline thedoc

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Apparently a gorilla was taught sign language. Could selective breeding over 50000 years produce a sophisticated language in gorillas, and perhaps accentuated abstract and artistic intelligence?
Asked by Donald Piniach

                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.

[chapter podcast=1001362 track=16.05.17/Naked_Scientists_Show_16.05.17_1005180.mp3]  ...or Listen to the Answer[/chapter] or [download as MP3]

« Last Edit: 18/05/2016 09:44:55 by _system »

Offline SquarishTriangle

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Or we could breed humans intelligent enough to understand gorilla language as it is?

Selective breeding in animals has lead to all sorts of undesirable and lethal genetic traits over time, due to the focus of selection being on those small number of "desirable" ones and the subsequent bottleneck effect on other genes. Just look at pug dogs and Scottish fold cats.

In order for selective breeding to work, you would also need to breed the "selected" ones in excess of the "non-selected" ones. Or kill off the ones you don't like, so that they can't breed... Hmm.

On the other hand, there are probably few gorillas that lack the intelligence to learn such as thing, so you would really be selecting for "willingness" rather than inherent "ability". And if all animals are equally "able" then you wouldn't end up applying any sort of selection pressure, and no effective change to the population would occur.