Many think language makes us uniquely human. Yet bees communicate precisely how to reach a source of pollen from the hive. Birds warn of a predator. Dogs call to each other with their barks and understand our verbal commands. And new studies show that baboons' grunts align with human speech patterns and even plants send signals to each other through their roots.
Is language just one type of communication, and have we wildly overestimated its importance? Are humans no different in principle from other animals and plants? Or is language profoundly different from all other forms of communication and the enabler of consciousness itself?
Director of the International Centre for Birds of Prey Jemima Parry-Jones, senior editor of Nature Henry Gee and author of Logos Raymond Tallis go in search of what makes humans unique.