April 2 - A California sealion named Ronan may represent the only non-human species who can keep a beat without simultaneous vocal mimicry. A study of Ronan published by the American Psychological Association, provides the first empirical evidence that the sealion can bob its head to the groove of a disco beat, without being able to sing along. Rob Muir reports.
Ronan is a California sealion. She loves to swim, eat fish and get lost in the rhythms of Earth, Wind and Fire. According a study by the University of California at Santa Cruz, Ronan is the first non-human animal to be observed moving rhythmically to music without being able to mimic it vocally. To ensure there was no coincidence involved, doctoral candidate Peter Cook tested Ronan with various beats from a metronome. Here's Ronan with the Backstreet Boys. Current theory suggests animals, like parrots, can only synchronise their movement with sounds they can vocalise. Not so Ronan. For her it was a prize winning performance.