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If those genes don't work, babies are born with severely small brains, called microcephaly.

Gray and Atkinson analysed 87 languages from Irish to Afghan.

Rather than compare entire dictionaries, they used a list of 200 words that are found in all cultures, such as 'I', 'hunt' and 'sky'.

Years later, a ruler declares one of those copies the definitive manuscript, and a rush is on to make many copies of that version — so whatever changes from the original are in this presumed important copy become widely disseminated.

Scientists attempt to date genetic changes by tracing back to such spread, using a statistical model that assumes genes have a certain mutation rate over time.

That does not mean one population is smarter than another, Lahn and other scientists stressed, noting that numerous other genes are key to brain development.

"There's just no correlation," said Duke's Wray, calling education and other environmental factors more important for intelligence than DNA anyway. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.Words are better understood than grammar as a guide to language history; the same sentence structure can arise independently in different tongues.The resulting tree matches many existing ideas about language development.Those criticisms are particularly important, Collins said, because Lahn's testing did find geographic differences in populations harboring the gene variants today.They were less common in sub-Saharan African populations, for example."We, including scientists, have considered ourselves as sort of the pinnacle of evolution," noted lead researcher Bruce Lahn, a University of Chicago geneticist whose studies appear in Friday's edition of the journal Science.