Two mutations in a single gene may have provided the evolutionary push that opened the way to human conversation. It all comes down to a master switch for language, the Foxp2 gene, which was first identified in 2001. It was found because of its associations, when switched off, in speech and language problems in humans. The following year German and British researchers compared our Foxp2 gene with matching ones in chimps, gorillas, orang-utans and rhesus macaque monkeys. They found two alterations seen only in humans, and surmised that these mutations had opened the way to language. Extensive research since has shown how the altered Foxp2 also triggered physiological changes that delivered the capacity to talk, something that gave humans a huge evolutionary advantage. Researchers are now studying how Foxp2 interacts with a large collection of genes associated with language.As you read the discoveries, remember that most of them would have never come about without a modern, scientifically valid understanding of the universe—something that young earth creationism cannot provide.
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