Vocal communication is the transfer of information through the auditory channel via voice production mechanisms.
Vocal communication is ubiquitous in mammal species. As a mode of signaling, vocalizations often manifest in alarm call systems, territorial displays, and courtship rituals and are particularly well-suited for functions requiring wide broadcast. But vocal signals are used in an incredible variety of communicative contexts, many of which are extremely quiet, and between small groups of animals. Here I will describe two fundamental issues important for the study of evolution of vocal communication in humans and nonhuman animals: the distinction between adaptive signals and byproduct cues, and the concept of form and function in the structure of animal signals. I will then apply these principles to current evolutionary research on vocal behavior in humans specifically.
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