An anonymous submitter writes: "A new study published in Nature reports that humans developed speech and language 200,000 years ago as a result of gene mutation. Washington Post story with more background. The mutation in the FOXP2 gene allowed humans greater control over their mouth and throat muscles, and gave them the ability to produce new sounds. It was apparently such an advantageous mutation that it quickly swept through the human population (10,000 - 20,000 years) almost entirely wiping out earlier versions. This development seems to also match up closely with the time period humans began developing culture. Researchers next want to try altering the gene in mice to see what happens, although they suspect there are many other genes involved. So, how long until I can get a talking dog?"