Sea lion is first non-human mammal shown to keep a beat

Ronan, a sea lion at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory is the first non-human mammal to show that she can move to the rhythms of a song, in this case the funky beats of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Boogie Wonderland.

The ability to keep a beat is innate for us humans – at least most of us. But it is rare to find this ability in other animals. Previously, only birds with talents for vocal mimicry were thought to possess rhythmic ability in the animal kingdom, and so it was thought that vocal mimicy and keeping a beat might be somehow linked.

Ronan’s rhythmic displays prove otherwise. They’re a product of research and training by Peter Cook, a graduate student in psychology at UCSC, and Andrew Rouse, a researcher at the Pinniped Cognition & Sensory Systems Lab. A study of their work with Ronan was published April 1, 2013, in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Bottom line: Sea lion Ronan is first non-human mammal to keep a beat. Her ability to rock out to Earth, Wind and Fire’s Boogie Wonderland is the product of research by scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory.

April 5, 2013

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