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The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world. SavvyExacta is a lifelong animal enthusiast with more than 20 years of experience with horses. Freckles (an English setter) is a frequent topic on the blog. Other CR4 bloggers occasionally add great posts.

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8 comments

Animals That Can Keep a Beat

Posted April 06, 2013 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Dancing was once thought to be unique to humans. Whether we look funny doing it or not, humans naturally have some sense of rhythm and so have some ability for dancing. Can animals dance?

Some animals can certainly be trained to do so. Have you ever watched a horse and rider perform dressage?

Others seem to have some natural talent for dancing. Birds of paradise, for example, have impressive courting dances. They start out by preparing a dance floor and then reveal their costumes as the show progresses!

Dancing to the music in your own head is one thing. It's another altogether to follow the beat of a song! Most birds that can bob to a beat, like cockatoos and parrots, can also vocally mimic the beats of the songs they are "dancing" to. They will even adjust the tempo of their dance to match that of a song that's been slowed down or sped up.

In a recent study published in APA's Journal of Comparative Psychology, Ronan the sea lion learned to bob her head to music. Ronan proves that vocal mimicry isn't a requirement for rhythmic movement. (She's not a singer.)

According to an article published on ScienceDaily:

"At the beginning of the experiments, Ronan was first trained to move in time to a hand signal, which was replaced by a simple non-musical sound signal. When she successfully completed tests by bobbing her head to various rhythmic sounds, she was rewarded with a fish, the study said."

Ronan was eventually able to bob her head to the beat of a number of songs, even without prior exposure to them. She didn't forget her rhythm skills after training was suspended.

Related Reading: Beluga whales, the canaries of the sea!

Resources: Science Daily, BBC, National Geographic

Image Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Guru

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#1

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/06/2013 12:24 AM
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Guru

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#2

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/06/2013 6:26 PM

There are some exceptional dancers in the animal kingdom.....

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#3

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/07/2013 6:24 AM

Our dog, a whippet, listens intensely when I play the djembe drum. I can play different styles, various rhythms and tempos, being creative or boring, but she will walk away if I start fluffing up the riff or loose the feel, and will return when I'm back in the groove.

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Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/07/2013 7:00 AM

We have here in India dancing horses. They are called in marriage festivals and they dance to beats of drum. Here is you tube link:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urvYfnRY2Q8

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#5

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/07/2013 11:41 AM

Four orcas breaching in unison--there's a beautiful display of synchronized swimming!

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#6

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/10/2013 3:56 PM

This is my favorite example of a bird dancing

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/10/2013 5:17 PM

That bird is really white.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Animals That Can Keep a Beat

04/11/2013 7:29 AM

He's really good!

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