Synchronised swimmers: Seals have a sense of rhythm, scientists learn

Researchers say their findings are a ‘significant advance’ in the understanding of the mysterious origins of human speech and musicality, reports Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Wednesday 26 October 2022 07:30 BST
Seals have a sense of rhythm, scientists learn
Seals have a sense of rhythm, scientists learn (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Evolutionary biologists have found that seals are able to pick up rhythms in a way that is similar to human’s capacity for speech and music from a young age.

Existing research has shown only animals that can learn new vocalisations—such as humans and songbirds—seem to have a sense of rhythm.

“We know that our closest relatives, non-human primates, need to be trained to respond to rhythm”, said Laura Verga, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. “And even when trained, primates show very different rhythmic capacities to ours”.

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