Vocal Communication Originated Over 400 Million Years Ago
Published:07 Nov.2022    Source:University of Zurich
An international research team led by the University of Zurich (UZH) has therefore focused on species that have never been accessed before. Their study includes evidence for 53 species of four major clades of land vertebrates -- turtles, tuataras, caecilians and lungfishes -- in the form of vocal recordings and contextual behavioral information accompanying sound production. The research expounded that along with a broad literature-based dataset including 1800 different species covering the entire spectrum shows that vocal communication is not only widespread in land vertebrates, but also evidence acoustic abilities in several groups previously considered non-vocal.

To investigate the evolutionary origins of acoustic communication in vertebrates, the researchers combined relevant data on the vocalization abilities of species like lizards, snakes, salamanders, amphibians, and dipnoi with phylogenetic trait reconstruction methods. Combined with data of well-known acoustic clades like mammals, birds, and frogs, the researchers were able to map vocal communication in the vertebrate tree of life. “We were able to reconstruct acoustic communication as a shared trait among these animals, which is at least as old as their last common ancestor that lived approximately 407 million years before present,” explains Marcelo Sánchez, who led the study.