Once upon a time there was an adorable little 4-year-old sea lion named Ronan. She was found in on the highway in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and taken to the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab at UC Santa Cruz. A graduate student began training her to bob her head with a metronome. Over time — with steady rewards of fish — she began to be able to bob her head to songs that she’d never even heard before.
Not only is she amazing, she is making scientists question previously held beliefs about animals’ ability to keep a beat — she’s the first nonhuman mammal to be proven to have a sense of rhythm. The results of this have recently been published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. If, however, you don’t feel like reading some boring article by a bunch of boring people that you probably won’t understand anyway, you should just watch this:
As you probably know if you’ve spent time on the internet, some parrots and cockatoos can keep a beat, so scientists thought maybe beat-keeping was reserved for animals who could talk or mimic speech. Ronan is blowing that theory out of the water. We can’t wait for her world tour with this guy.
Head-Bobbing Sea Lion May Keep the Beat Better Than You, Wired.
Get Grist in your inbox