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William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch III (born 1963)[1] is an American evolutionary biologist and cognitive scientist at the University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria) where he is co-founder of the Department of Cognitive Biology.

Fitch studies the biology and evolution of cognition and communication in humans and other animals, and in particular the evolution of speech, language and music. His work concentrates on comparative approaches as advocated by Charles Darwin (i.e., the study of homologous and analogous structures and processes in a wide range of species).

Fitch was born in Boston[1] and received his B.A. (1986) in biology and his Ph.D. (1994) in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University. From 1996 to 2000, he worked as a Postdoctoral fellow at MIT and Harvard University. He was a lecturer at Harvard University and a reader at the University of St Andrews, before moving to a professorship at the University of Vienna in 2009.

He bears the name of his third generation great grandfather, William Tecumseh Sherman, as did his father and grandfather before him.


Ability of monkeys to speakEdit

William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch III got a macaque monkey named Emiliano to utter various sounds while subject to X-ray video recording. The video was used to make a model of Emiliano's body parts that created all of its possible sounds. The model determined which vowel and non-vowel sounds Emiliano could make. In a simulation, "Emiliano" said "Will you marry me?" in a recognizable manner, revealing that the anatomy of monkeys does not limit them from producing complex speech. In conclusion, William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch III stated "If a human brain were in control, they could talk".[2][3]


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