Humans apparently aren’t alone in the ways we perceive pitch. A new Johns Hopkins study finds evidence that marmoset monkeys share distinct features with humans in the way they distinguish between high and low notes.
The research sheds light on the evolution of vocal communication and song, suggesting that aspects of pitch perception might have developed over 40 million years ago. A summary of the findings was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Though pitch perception has been found in other animal species, humans have always stood out as unique in their specialized abilities. “Until now, we didn’t think any animal species, including monkeys, perceived it the way we do,” says Xiaoqin Wang, professor of biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Now we know that marmosets, and likely other primate ancestors, do.”