A stone's throw and its launch window: timing precision and its implications for language and hominid brains

J Theor Biol. 1983 Sep 7;104(1):121-35. doi: 10.1016/0022-5193(83)90405-8.


Did bigger brains for more precise throwing lead to language, much as feathers for insulation may have set the stage for bird flight? Throwing rocks even at stationary prey requires great precision in the timing of rock release from an overarm throw, with the "launch window" narrowing eight-fold when the throwing distance is doubled from a beginner's throw. Paralleled timing neurons can overcome the usual neural noise limitations via the law of large numbers, suggesting that enhanced throwing skill could have produced a strong selection pressure for any evolutionary trends that provided additional timing neurons. This enhanced timing circuitry may have developed secondary uses for language reception and production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Biological Clocks
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology*
  • Primates
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology