Orangutans' Use Of Kazoo Provides Insight On Human Speech : Short Wave If you give an orangutan a kazoo, will it produce a sound? Researchers discovered that this simple instrument could offer insights into the vocal abilities of orangutans — and the evolution of human speech. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong talks with primatologist Adriano Lameira about a growing body of evidence that humans may not be the only great apes with voice control.

If You Give An Orangutan A Kazoo...

If You Give An Orangutan A Kazoo...

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Researchers gave a kazoo to six orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo, including a 40-year-old female named Kobi, for an experiment to test their vocal abilities. Ian Nichols/Indianapolis Zoo hide caption

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Ian Nichols/Indianapolis Zoo

Researchers gave a kazoo to six orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo, including a 40-year-old female named Kobi, for an experiment to test their vocal abilities.

Ian Nichols/Indianapolis Zoo

If you give an orangutan a kazoo, will it produce a sound? Researchers discovered that this simple instrument could offer insights into the vocal abilities of orangutans — and the evolution of human speech. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong talks with primatologist Adriano Lameira about a growing body of evidence that humans may not be the only great apes with voice control. Follow Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

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This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez and edited by Viet Le.