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Bird-speak topic of talk

COURTESY PHOTO - A study of songbirds and other animals informed neurogeneticist Morgan Wirthlins knowledge of birds vocal behaviors.Neurogeneticist Morgan Wirthlin will be speaking at the Venetian Theatre and Bistro, 253 E. Main St., Hillsboro, about the evolution of vocal behaviors of birds on Monday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.

Aside from birds, few animals possess the complex ability of imitation song, whereas others — such as dogs — struggle to imitate, despite understanding up to 1,000 human words. How can learned behaviors, which change drastically over our lifetimes, be encoded in our genes, which largely stay the same?

Wirthlin poses this question as he looks for critical clues to the evolution of vocal behaviors by studying the brains and genomes of songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds, as well as a strange group of birds found deep in the Amazon. In the talk, Morgan will describe what this research can tell us about the mechanisms behind our own ability to speak and sing.

The event is free, with a suggested donation of $5.


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