Tracing the Evolution of Language

Michael Gavin, associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources at Colorado State University, and other researchers across six disciplines formed a unit (in 2010) with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and they’re on a mission to better understand why our species, collectively, speaks over 7,000 distinct languages. They began by reviewing existing studies (language studies around the equator and at different elevations), and by addressing existing theories (war, geography or cultural differences). Remarkably, not a lot is known. Though through species diversity patterning never before applied to language, and only three basic assumptions about climate and population, they were able to predict quite accurately the language diversity and placement of the 406 aboriginal Australian languages. Learn more about the study at NY Mag.