What other land animals are dancing

Nature & Environment - The most beguiling dancer in the animal kingdom

The gray-backed lyretail often causes confusion in its native Australia. Because he is a gifted imitator of noises: he imitates alarm sirens, clicking cameras or even chainsaws deceptively real.

But the gifted bird can not only sing. His dancing gifts are at least as fascinating. The gray-backed lyre-tail is even the only known animal in the world that sings and dances at such a high level, says biologist Anastasia Dalziell from the Australian University of Canberra. She and colleagues described this dance for the first time in the journal “Current Biology”.

Animal rock star

With their dances, the males try to impress females who are ready to mate. In addition, they give a four-part performance that combines complex, predetermined movements with different sounds. Just as we humans dance the waltz to waltz music or flamenco to flamenco singing, the lyre tails also have a whole repertoire of movement and tone combinations.

“Sometimes they hold their tail feathers over their heads like a veil and move sideways to do so; sometimes they raise their tail so that it looks like a mohawk, hop to it and flap their wings; then again they stand still and make a loud screeching ”, Anastasia Dalziell describes the dance of lyre tails.

Birds also go to dance classes

According to the biologist, this performance is as demanding in terms of thinking and movement as people's dances. The researchers assume that the lyre tails learn their courtship dance, especially since the birds have been shown to learn noises by playing and sometimes perform their dance music without dance steps.

For the time being, it remains to be seen why nothing comparable is known in the animal kingdom. "Perhaps the research has simply not looked closely enough up to now," suspects Dalziell. On a much simpler level, other animals also perform rhythmic movements accompanied by acoustics; For example, storks, some songbirds and spiders. But their behavior is innate and simpler. The purpose of all dance-and-sound performances in the animal kingdom, however, is the same: They ensure reproduction.

We should dance more too

Dancing and singing have a more important biological function than is generally assumed, says Anastasia Dalziell. The researcher does not want to claim that it secures reproduction in humans, but dancing helps to maintain social relationships and to connect with others. “We can therefore attach a little more importance to dancing and singing than we normally do,” she says.

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