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Alien Talk

If we meet up with aliens, will we be able to talk to each other? We can't even understand the language of some of the creatures that live right here on Earth with us.

Astronomer Guy Consolmagrio says, "[It's possible] we find an intelligent civilization and there's no way in creation we can communicate with them because they're so alien to us. We can't talk to dolphins now."

Scientists have long been studying how chimpanzees, whales, parrots and dolphins communicate. Now they've added dogs to the list. "For psychologists, dogs may be the new chimpanzees," says researcher Paul Bloom. "Dog owners often boast about the communicative and social abilities of their pets, and this study seems to vindicate them."

They've discovered a German Border Collie that can recognize and react to 200 words. Researcher Julia Fischer says, "This ability suggests that the brain structures that support this kind of learning are not unique to humans, and may have formed the evolutionary basis of some of the advanced language abilities of humans."

In New Scientist, Shaoni Bhattacharya quotes Fisher as saying, "With the evolution of language the constraints are not on the comprehension side?that had all been in place before humans uttered a word. The constraints are more on the production side." In other words, language may have evolved in several steps and some animals may possess all the prerequisites except vocal ability. Linguists think hand gestures came before verbal language. Fisher says, "Primates have fabulous control of their hands, but they don't gesture."

Scientists used to equate intelligence with language, but now they think a species can be considered intelligent yet be unable to communicate with others. Another problem is that we have 8,000 languages on Earth?so which one would be use to talk to aliens, assuming we met up with them?

One reason why our history is a mystery: Graham Phillips has uncovered the secret legacy of an ancient noble family and a trail of clues hidden in the English countryside that lead to a mysterious grotto, a forgotten attic, and the lost chalice of Mary Magdalene.

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