ENVIRONMENT
04/02/2013 12:20 pm ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Ronan, 3-Year-Old Sea Lion, Bobs Head To Pop Songs (VIDEO)

Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz (USCS) Long Marine Laboratory have succeeded in training a sea lion to bob her head to complex beats in songs by Earth, Wind & Fire, The Backstreet Boys and other popular groups.

Click the video above to watch.

The 3-year-old California sea lion, named Ronan, is the first mammal (apart from humans) to be able to keep a beat, Department of Psychology graduate student Peter Cook, who led the experiment, says in the video.

Previously, some parrots have been shown to keep beats to complex rhythms. But this action is remarkable for a sea lion because the species is incapable of what scientists call "vocal mimicry," the ability to make sounds that match what an animal hears.

"It may be that rhythmic ability is more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously thought," Cook says in the video.

And while Ronan is adorable, she also has varied tastes in music and can get down to beats from several different songs. Ronan first bobbed her head to a simplified section of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down On The Corner," according to the press release of an American Psychological Association study on Ronan's dance abilities. And once she had mastered that, researchers found that Ronan was able to "dance" to more complex songs, like "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind & Fire and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by the Backstreet Boys. (You might remember a 2007 viral video of a cockatoo "dancing" to that Backstreet Boys hit.)

Does Ronan have a favorite song? She does, according to a UCSC news article about the experiment. Her tune of choice: "Boogie Wonderland."

(Hat tip, The Verge)

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