Watch Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo Has More Moves Than You

first_img Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferWatch: Deep-Sea Octopus ‘Billows Like a Circus Tent’ Stay on target A dancing cockatoo named Snowball achieved YouTube and late-night talk show fame back in 2009, when he was filmed grooving to a Backstreet Boys song. But it turns out Snowball’s dancing talent is not limited to a few simple moves like head bobbing and foot lifting.A team of researchers have presented new evidence that Snowball responds to music with diverse and spontaneous movements using various parts of his body, and has taught himself 14 different dance moves.The finding, described in the journal Current Biology, suggests that dancing to music isn’t an arbitrary product of human culture but a response to music that arises when certain cognitive and neural capacities come together in animal brains, the researchers say.“What’s most interesting to us is the sheer diversity of his movements to music,” said senior author Aniruddh Patel, a psychologist at Tufts University and Harvard University, noting that Snowball developed those moves without any training.Patel authored a previous study that confirmed that Snowball could move to the beat, which was notable in part because dancing is a natural ability in humans that’s absent in other primates.Soon after that study, Snowball’s owner and an author on the new paper, Irena Schulz, noticed that Snowball was making movements to music she hadn’t seen before.Researchers decided to study Snowball’s dance moves and look for similarities to humans’ dancing, specifically diversity in the movements and body parts used when responding to music. To do this, the team filmed Snowball grooving to ’80s songs “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. They played each of the tunes for him three times for a total of 23 minutes.The study’s first author R. Joanne Jao Keehn, a cognitive neuroscientist and a trained dancer, then used frame-by-frame analysis with the audio muted. She focused on each “dance movement” or sequence of repeated movements. The movements of interest were clearly intentional, but Snowball wasn’t making them to achieve any plausible external goal.“Snowball developed this behavior spontaneously,” Patel told the Washington Post. “He was never given a food reward for any of this. He was never taught to make dance moves.”The video captured Snowball completing a diverse repertoire of 14 dance movements and two composite movements. He bobs, swings, and circles his head around in several different ways, sometimes in coordination with foot lifts or other movements.Unlike the way humans normally dance, Snowball tended to dance in snippets of about three or four seconds, the researchers said. Each time he heard a particular tune he danced a little differently, a sign of flexibility and the researchers speculate, even creativity.Virtually none of the movements were what anyone would consider natural for a cockatoo. “Certainly, they do movements as part of courtship,” Patel said. “But many of the moves we see in this study are things nobody has ever reported in the wild in terms of cockatoo behavior.”Snowball isn’t the first parrot to move to the music, but there have been questions about how such moves are acquired. In the study, researchers propose that the reason humans and parrots share a natural ability to dance may arise from the convergence of five traits: vocal learning; the capacity for nonverbal movement imitation; a tendency to form long-term social bonds; the ability to learn complex sequences of actions; and attentiveness to communicative movements.Read the full study here.More on Baby Bird Gets Sold Uber Ride to Utah Rehab CenterEndangered Baby Kakapo Parrot Gets World-First Brain SurgeryParrot ‘Falls in Love’ With Amazon Alexa, UsesI It to Order Treatslast_img

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