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!

5 Comments

Filed under Research

5 responses to “Parrots Can Dance (but not Professors)

  1. :p Speak for yourself, I have a gold medal Australian Dance Sport in Modern Ballroom!😀 Great parrot jive. Have you seen this one?

  2. brucehood

    It’s a dead ringer for Michael Jackson!

  3. I’m not going to defend my dancing, but wondered whether you might have any tips for how to present a Mother’s Day gift of your book — to a mother-in-law who often asks why we don’t consider past lives and auras in our research. She has given us many books proving the existence of such things, so I’m hoping she’ll appreciate your book in the spirit of that exchange. Randy’s a bit nervous about the whole thing.

  4. brucehood

    Hmmm.. that’s a toughie Yuko. I tried to write SuperSense to be an light-hearted and accessible book for non-experts but it will still offend the believers (as well as many non-believers who think that we can easily get rid of supernatural beliefs through educaiton) . Hopefully, the positive spin I put on intuitive thinking and the possibility that we use our supersense to justify our sacred values in society will make the message a little more acceptable. There are a few funny jokes in it as well.
    Thanks for buying it.
    Bruce

  5. poietes

    Those birds have more rhythm than my ex-husband . . .

    But I digress . . .

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