Having rhythm has long been thought to be a human trait only, but a new study from the University of California, Santa Cruz, proves that we're not the only mammals who know how to boogie.
A sea lion named Ronan has been trained to bob her head in time with rhythmic sounds. According to a UCSC press release, Ronan is also able to move to the sounds of music she has never heard before. She listens, quickly catches the beat, and starts to bob her head accordingly.
Peter Cook, who works in the Department of Psychology at UCSC and helped train Ronan, said, "When we first trained Ronan, we used a simple repeating sound, something like a metronome." Cook explained that once Ronan had learned how to identify a simple beat, without any further training she was able to find and keep the beat in complex stimuli, including music.
Before now, the long-standing theory was that only humans and birds with the ability to mimic sounds, such as parrots, could move to a rhythm. Scientists once believed that keeping a beat required "a capacity for complex vocal learning."
In the video of Ronan, she's seen enjoying "Boogie Wonderland," by Earth, Wind and Fire -- a song she is familiar with. Later, she listens to "Everybody," by the Backstreet Boys, and without hesitation she seems to equally enjoy it.
The study showed that sea lions cannot perform vocal mimicry, but that does not seem to stop Ronan from moving her head to the beat.