Go 'Head Birdie, Get Your Eagle On

Birds, elephants can break it down, scientists say

By Caitlin Millat
|  Friday, May 1, 2009  |  Updated 1:39 PM CDT
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Go 'Head Birdie, Get Your Eagle On

AP

Snowball, the YouTube cockatoo, can break it down old-school.

Got a cockatoo? Turn up the volume -- and watch your bird drop it like it's hot.

Certain animals can "dance" to a musical beat, scientists said after studying a bird that breaks it down to the Backstreet Boys in more than 1,000 YouTube videos.

After studying Snowball, the YouTube cockatoo, as well as other animals who shake their tail feather on the site, scientists found that many of the species felt the beat of the music they heard -- and responded to it by simulating a "dance" that looks like human movement.

Animals like birds -- and elephants, scientists say -- can move to the music because they're able to mimic the sounds they hear.

But don't try this with your dogs or cats -- you'll be getting your eagle on alone. Only certain species can pop, lock and drop it, the study showed.

A video featuring the cockatoo, Snowball, dancing to the boy band has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube. In the clip, Snowball follows the beat of the song, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" even as it's slowed down or sped up.

Statistical analysis showed Snowball's head bobs responded to the pulsating beat of the song -- proving the cockatoo was really getting down.

"I was very impressed," said Aniruddh Patel of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, who led the study.

Patel and his colleagues studied 14 other species of birds and one elephant, all of who were shown "dancing" on YouTube.

The study was published Thursday by the journal Current Biology.

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