Looks like we’ll have to get more advanced in our communications. These Punkeys are getting better at communications! From New Scientist:

Macaques may just seem to be indulging in monkey banter, but they can distinguish one another’s voices in much the same way that humans do, suggests a new study.

In the human brain, the “voice region” in the auditory cortex activates when we hear others speak. It had been unclear if the human voice area was a specialist adaptation that evolved with our spoken language skills.

Now Chris Petkov at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, and colleagues have found that monkey brains, too, have a voice region.

They played a variety of sounds to seven macaques and used fMRI to detect any brain areas with increased activity.

One region, corresponding to a site close to the voice region in the human brain, lit up in response to macaque coos and grunts, but was less active when the monkeys heard other animals or natural sounds, such as those of insects, thunder and rain.

Further tests on one monkey showed that the same brain area was more sensitive to differences between individual voices than to differences in the sounds uttered by the same macaque.

“This means we may be able to use these monkeys as a model to study ‘voice blindness’, a condition where humans cannot tell people apart by their voices,” says Petkov.

Soon they’ll be intercepting our mail, signing up for credit cards and magazines, unleashing havoc on our phones and blackberries. Maybe it’s already happened!

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