Sea lion blows scientists’ minds by head-bobbing to the Backstreet Boys


Researchers at the University of California in Santa Cruz have successfully trained a sea lion to bob its head in time to music, in a study that may change our understanding of how rhythm is acquired. Previously, report the team in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, it was thought that only animals capable of vocal mimicry — such as cockatoos and budgerigars — could be taught rhythm.

However, a sea lion named Ronan has been able to perform to the team’s three criteria: “a behavioral response that does not reproduce the stimulus; performance transfer to a range of novel tempos; and entrainment to complex, musical stimuli.” Once Ronan had got the hang of things, she was able to learn new songs at different speeds with ease, as…

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