Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Watch: Cockatoo is the first known animal to dance to a beat – and he has 14 different moves

Scientists say he is the first known animal to dance without being rewarded

Rhythm: you either have it or you don’t. And for those of us who don’t, a cockatoo called Snowball is about to make you feel even more inferior on the dancefloor.

The sulphur-crested cockatoo has become an internet sensation thanks to his impressive dance moves, which have delighted fans and baffled scientists in equal measure.

Snowball has 14 signature moves that he enjoys pulling out to ‘80s pop classics. And unlike other animals that have been known to dance in the past, Snowball does not do it for a reward or as part of a mating ritual, he does it, it seems, for the sheer love of music.

Scientists believe Snowball to be the first documented animal to demonstrate an ability to dance in time to a beat. In a video first filmed in 2008, but recently studied by scientists, Snowball can be seen to demonstrate the 14 distinct moves as Another One Bites the Dust and Girls Just Want To Have Fun play in the background.

Scientists believe Snowball is the first animal to demonstrate the ability to dance to a beat. YouTube
Scientists believe Snowball is the first animal to demonstrate the ability to dance to a beat. YouTube

“What’s most interesting to us is the sheer diversity of his movements to music,” said Aniruddh Patel, a psychologist at Tufts University and Harvard University and senior author of a report published in Current Biology.

Parrots are known to be vocal learners, and can often mimic sounds or words, but Snowball has intrigued scientists thanks to his ability to perform dance moves to those sounds, something they say shows a level of creativity.

“This would also be remarkable, as creativity in non-human animals has typically been documented in behaviours aimed at obtaining an immediate physical benefit, such as access to food or mating opportunities,” the study says.

“Snowball does not dance for food or in order to mate; instead, his dancing appears to be a social behaviour used to interact with human caregivers (his surrogate flock).”

Snowball has in the past appeared in television shows and commercials, while YouTube videos showing his dancing have racked up more than one million views.

Updated: July 9, 2019 12:33 PM