What Mammal Does Not Have Vocal Cords?

July 16, 2023
David Sunnyside

The ability to speak and communicate as we humans can is unique among the animal kingdom. While some animals have shown signs of communication that could be considered a form of language, none of them have been able to master it to the extent that we can. This is because they lack the vocal cords and larynx that are needed to create complicated sounds, articulate words, and use grammatical structures.

The earliest known fossil of a bird syrinx was discovered in 2013 and is believed to be around 67 million years old, which is about the same time all modern birds became established. The discovery was made by paleontologists who combed through the literature, analyzing the anatomy, development, and genetics of modern reptiles’ larynxes and syrinxes to understand how this amazing organ came to be.

Today’s amphibians, reptiles, and mammals all have a larynx, or voice box, at the top of their airways. The larynx, which protects the throat, contains folds of tissue that vibrate to enable people to talk and other mammals to grunt and roar.

However, some mammals, such as the Barbary macaque, the American kangaroo, and sloths, do not have vocal cords. They are able to make sound by pushing air through their throats or mouths, or by using vibrations in the environment to produce their calls. While this is not the same as speaking, it is a form of communication that is useful for these species.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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