These monkeys can probably tap to music better than you

Tapping a rhythm is not a natural behavior for monkeys, so learning it requires a lot of training.

Macaques can tap out the rhythm just like humans, but they have to be trained [Shutterstock]

Until now, it was believed that only species with complex vocalisations , such as humans and some songbirds, had the ability to synchronise their movements with music.

Vani Rajendran from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and his colleagues conducted research on macaques that had previously been trained to tap a rhythm to the beat of a metronome.

The next stage was tapping a sequence of sounds with different tempo, frequency and volume. Finally, the monkeys were presented with real musical fragments - it turned out that they could tap out the rhythm just like humans.


Songs presented to the monkeys included You're the First, the Last, My Everything by Barry White, A New England by Billy Bragg and Everybody by the Backstreet Boys.

Rhythm tests have also been conducted on humans, revealing significant differences in the way humans and macaques tap rhythm.

As Rajendran emphasised, tapping a rhythm is not a natural behavior for monkeys, so learning it requires a lot of training, while in the case of humans it is spontaneous behaviour.

In addition, monkeys do not necessarily tap at the same moments in a given song as humans do. While humans tend to tap out one rhythm over and over again during rehearsals, a monkey often taps out different interpretations of the rhythm of the same song.


Previous research based on observations of brain electrical activity indicated that macaques appear to have an innate sensitivity to rhythm, even if they have not previously listened to music, but have little or no sense of melody.


This article was originally published on Onet Travel.


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