Sweet threats

Robin - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Why have humans evolved to find bird song beautiful when it’s full of threats and bad language? If I trace my ancestors back in time, and this Robin does the same, our ancestors meet 320 million years ago in the family tree of life. There’s a ‘hairpin bend’ of evolution when our ancestors were one and the same living creature. Much of our DNA is shared between us. So are many of the proteins which make up our bodies. Our brains have striking similarities.

Our common ancestor didn’t sing in the same way that we do or that birds do, yet we both make tunes, convey meaning and have syntax. That’s something worth singing about.

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