Spread of speech

There’s a very interesting Beeb article that suggests that the introduction of sign language increased deafness rates by enabling carriers of hearing impairment genes to get it together more easily. In particular, this comment by research leader Walter Nance opened a new window:

When you think about how the onset of selective marriages among deaf populations led to an increase in specific mutations for deafness, you easily can see how these same forces might have contributed to the spread of genes for speech among Homo sapiens 160,000 years ago… If you were one of the first primates with an ability to communicate by speaking, wouldn’t you want to select a partner who could whisper sweet nothings in your ear?

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