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Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Relative Difference
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Music—including vocals (which in turn include words), melody, rhythm, repetition, redundancy, variation, and variants for children—is found in all or nearly all cultures. Music is always seen as an art, a creation. The oldest known constructed musical instrument is a flute made from a vulture bone and dated approximately 35,000 BP. It was found in a cave in southern Germany in 2008.  Various flutes or flute fragments have been found in Neanderthal sites. The origins of music are unknown. There are a variety of hypotheses for how it evolved.  Some aspects of music are found in other species. A parrot in captivity has demonstrated a clear sense of rhythm, but it is rare or absent the living species more closely related to humans.



Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Probable Appearance: 
100 thousand years ago
Definite Appearance: 
35 thousand years ago
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Topic Certainty
Art True
Dancing Speculative
Drumming True


  1. Universal interpretations of vocal music., Yurdum, Lidya, Singh Manvir, Glowacki Luke, Vardy Thomas, Atkinson Quentin D., Hilton Courtney B., Sauter Disa, Krasnow Max M., and Mehr Samuel A. , Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2023 Sep 12, Volume 120, Issue 37, p.e2218593120, (2023)
  2. Divergence in the functional organization of human and macaque auditory cortex revealed by fMRI responses to harmonic tones, Norman-Haignere, Sam V., Kanwisher Nancy, McDermott Josh H., and Conway Bevil R. , Nature Neuroscience, 2019/06/10, (2019)
  3. Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music perception, McDermott, Josh H., Schultz Alan F., Undurraga Eduardo A., and Godoy Ricardo A. , Nature, 2016/07/13, Volume advance online publication, p. - , (2016)
  4. Monkey drumming reveals common networks for perceiving vocal and nonvocal communication sounds., Remedios, Ryan, Logothetis Nikos K., and Kayser Christoph , Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2009 Oct 20, Volume 106, Issue 42, p.18010-5, (2009)