DEC Colloquium

The Language of Life: exploring the origins of human communication

Practical information
02 March 2021



Language is the most powerful social tool any species has evolved - we can use it to share any idea we can think of with the minds of those around us: from poetry, Shakespeare, and physics, to internet memes it underpins what defines us as a species. But despite centuries of thought and study we still have very little idea of how and why language evolved. As a field primatologist at the University of St Andrews, I have spent 15 years living and working with wild apes in the rainforests and mountains of Uganda. Using our studies of ape communication and minds, I will trace the different ways we've tried to ask questions about the uniqueness - or not - of human language.


Cat Hobaiter is a primatologist studying communication and cognition in wild apes.

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Cat Hobeiter