While reading in this article that starlings may be capable of discerning grammatical patterns, I recalled the FOXP2 gene. The gene seems to be involved in the development of areas of the brain involved in speech in humans. Variants of FOXP2 were found in a family whose members shared a rare speech disorder. In gene comparisons with other species, the highest degree of similarity to humans was found in song-learning birds.
Tom Firak Des Plaines, Ill.
From the Nature Index
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