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Monkeys and apes rely on a repertoire of species-specific "gesture-calls" — emotionally expressive vocalisations inseparable from the visual displays which accompany them. Modality independence should not be confused with the ordinary phenomenon of multimodality.When typing or manually signing, conversely, there's no need to add sounds.In many Australian Aboriginal cultures, a section of the population — perhaps women observing a ritual taboo — traditionally restrict themselves for extended periods to a silent (manually signed) version of their language.

The problems relate to humans' unprecedented use of the tongue, lips and vocal organs as instruments of communication. Modern city-dwellers switch effortlessly between the spoken word and writing in its various forms — handwriting, typing, e-mail and so forth.

As a result, the snout became reduced and the rhinarium or "wet nose" was lost.

The muscles of the face and lips consequently became less constrained, enabling their co-option to serve purposes of facial expression. "Hence", according to one major authority, "the evolution of mobile, muscular lips, so important to human speech, was the exaptive result of the evolution of diurnality and visual communication in the common ancestor of haplorhines".

Nothing, however, suggests that the lips evolved for those reasons.

During primate evolution, a shift from nocturnal to diurnal activity in tarsiers, monkeys and apes (the haplorhines) brought with it an increased reliance on vision at the expense of olfaction.

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