Cockatoo shows dance moves not unique to humans

By Subel Bhandari Jul 9, 2019

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Canberra – A dancing cockatoo which found fame online exhibits several creative and distinct moves, showing that spontaneous and diverse dance moves are not unique to humans, a scientific study published on Monday said. 

Snowball, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, grooves spontaneously to popular music, exhibiting several creative and distinct moves, including headbangs and foot-lifts.

“Spontaneous movement to music occurs in every human culture and is a foundation of dance,” the study published in Current Biology said.

Such moves “occurs in parrots, perhaps because they (like humans, and unlike monkeys) are vocal learners whose brains contain strong auditory-motor connections,” which gives sophisticated processing abilities, the researchers said. 

Snowball had garnered YouTube fame and news headlines a decade ago after dancing to the beat of the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody.” 

New videos posted on Youtube show the cockatoo responding musically to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” with diverse and spontaneous movements using various parts of his body, despite receiving no formal dance training. 

In the video, Snowball is seen bobbing, swinging and circling his head around in several different ways, sometimes in coordination with foot lifts or other movements.

“What’s most interesting to us is the sheer diversity of his movements to music,” said the study’s senior author Aniruddh Patel, a psychologist at Tufts University and Harvard University.

The analyses of the videos revealed that Snowball had a diverse repertoire of 14 dance movements and two composite movements and this behaviour “could be a sign of creativity,” according to the study.



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