The way most of us speak is shaped in part by how long ago our ancestors gave up chewing tough, raw meat. It’s widely known that languages evolve as societies developed, but the sounds we utter are also shaped by the placement of our jaw — and that is influenced by how we chew, researchers reported in the journal Science. Languages spoken by groups with hunter-gatherer societies in their more recent past are far less likely to use consonants used by longtime farming societies, they found. Eating softer foods not only sets the jaw differently, but also changes which sounds are easily pronounced. “Our anatomy actually changed the types of sounds being incorporated into languages,” wrote evolutionary anthropologist Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel.
Oceans buffering human-created carbon
Data are revealing how much carbon humans have put into the ocean. Research in the journal Science analyzed more than 100,000 samples collected from 1994 to 2007 and taken from nearly every corner and depth of ocean. The analysis found the oceans are absorbing about 31 percent of the carbon humans are creating. For context, the weight of the carbon seeping into the ocean each year is roughly equivalent to 2.6 billion Volkswagen Beetle cars, said Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. That temperature buffering comes at a cost; oceans continue to acidify. “The amount of carbon in the ocean, that rate is increasing, because the amount of CO2 we’re releasing the atmosphere is still increasing,” Feely said.