Sunday, May 03, 2009

Zebra finches and the language of God.
Biologists have discovered that zebra finches raised in isolation will, over several generations, produce a song similar to that sung by the species in the wild. The experiment provides new insights into how genetic background, learning abilities and environmental variation might influence how birds evolve "song culture" -- and provides some pointers to how human languages may evolve.

The study confirms that zebra finches raised in complete isolation do not sing the same song as they would if raised normally, i.e., among other members of their species. It breaks new ground in showing that progeny of these "odd birds," within several generations, will introduce improvisations that bring their song into conformity with those of "wild-type" zebra finches, i.e., those raised under normal cultural conditions.
The article blandly states, "[s]uch an experiment is not practical to conduct in humans". Hey, tell it to Frederick the Second.

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