Gene Found that Seems Key in Evolution of Speech

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists have pinpointed a gene mutation that might help explain why humans are able to talk but our closest relatives, chimpanzees, are not.

Researchers found a gene that looks and acts differently in chimps and humans.

In a study published by the journal Nature, they say lab tests show that the human version of the gene (FOXP2) regulated more than 100 other genes differently than the chimp version of the gene does.

While other genes may also be involved, the researchers say this one mutated around the time humans developed the ability to talk, and the change seems to have helped humans develop speech and language.

The study's author says work on the gene could potentially lead to genetic treatments for people with certain developmental difficulties, because it gives future researchers targets.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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