W. Tecumseh Fitch

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

He studies the biology and evolution of cognition and communication in humans and other animals, and in particular the evolution of speech, language and music. In doing so, he 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 and received his B.A. (1986) in biology and his Ph.D. (1994) in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University. From 1996-2000, 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 great-great-great-grandfather, William Tecumseh Sherman, as did his father and grandfather before him.


  • Fitch, W. T. (2010) The Evolution of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fitch, W. T. (1997). "Vocal tract length and formant frequency dispersion correlate with body size in rhesus macaques," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 102: 1213-1222.
  • Fitch, W. T. (2000). "The evolution of speech: a comparative review," Trends Cog. Sci. 4, 258-267.
  • Fitch, W.T. and D. Réby (2001), "The descended larynx is not uniquely human". Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 268(1477): 1669-1675.
  • Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N. & Fitch, W. T. (2002). "The Language Faculty: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?" Science 298: 1569-1579.
  • Fitch, W. T., & Hauser, M. D. (2004). "Computational constraints on syntactic processing in a nonhuman primate". Science 303: 377-380.
  • Fitch, W. T. (2005). "The evolution of language: A comparative review," Biology and Philosophy 20: 193–230.
  • Fitch, W. T. (2006). "The biology and evolution of music: A comparative perspective," Cognition 100: 173-215.

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