Daily Archives: May 1, 2009

Parrots Can Dance (but not Professors)

In a new study just out in the journal Current Biology, researchers at Harvard University has analysed over 1,000 youtube videos of dancing animals and concluded that at least 14 types of parrot and possibly one elephant have got rhythm. Here is the classic footage of the most famous cockatoo dancer, Snowball.

Aniruddh Patel of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, who led another study of Snowball’s performance, said that the bird had demonstrated an ability to adjust the tempo of his dancing to stay synchronized to the beat. 

In the scientific paper entitled, “Spontaneous motor entrainment to music in multiple vocal mimicking species,” Adena Schachner working with my old friend and colleague Marc Hauser, make the interesting conclusion that the capacity for vocal mimicry (as in the case of parrots) can provide the basis for synchronized movements, namely rhythmic dancing.

How ironic that academic professors who may have the capacity to research and write about synchronized movements are the least coordinated at the post-conference disco. You know who you are!

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