Why Animals Make Lousy Bandmates

by Abby @ Quaver on September 19, 2013

in At Quaver HQ

We all know that animal-named bands have had some great hits.

The Monkees, the Turtles, the Eagles, the Black Crowes, Band of Horses, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, to name a few. But generally speaking, animals aren’t all that great at keeping a beat.

Except cockatoos.


In the scholarly journal Current Biology, Aniruddh Patel, a researcher at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego asserts that apes can’t hold a drumstick to cockatoos, even though they’re genetically closer to humans.

He found that Snowball, a cockatoo, was capable of entrainment, the ability to move one’s body in time with music. Patel played the Backstreet Boys’ song “Everybody” at varying tempos and Snowball adjust to stay on the beat.

Patel theorizes that two key variables provide an explanation:

  1. an organization of the brain that allows mimicry of complex sounds and
  2. the power of social bonding.

He suspects songbirds, dolphins, elephants, walruses and seals may also possess this ability.

A team of Harvard researchers headed by Adena Schachner evaluated 1000+ YouTube videos portraying animals moving to music. Only 14 species of parrots and Asian elephants seemed to keep time.

What would your students think about this research? Talk about how humans are able to keep a steady beat. Use Fur-Cussion to further explore animals and rhythm. What kind of animal band they would like to put together?

We definitely recommend choosing the cockatoo over the chimp for drummer!

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