Lemurs can sing to the beat just like humans, new study finds


November 4, 2021, 12:08

Lemurs can sing rhythmically, just like us, according to a new study.

Image: Alamy

Research has revealed that primates can even sing in a rhythm similar to “We Will Rock You”.

On the island of Madagascar, the musical cries and howls of native lemurs contribute to the lively natural chorus.

And now new to research revealed that one of the world’s largest lemurs, the indri, actually shares similar musical traits to us humans.

The 12-year study found that the primate’s distinctive chants, which can last up to three minutes, actually have a categorical rhythm (1: 1 or 1: 2 rhythm).

“This is the first evidence of a ‘rhythmic universal’ in a non-human mammal,” said Dr Chiara de Gregorio, from the Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology at the University of Turin, Explain.

Read more: Medieval illustrations of psychedelic animals playing music raise many questions

Lemurs can sing rhythmically just like us, new study finds

Lemurs can sing rhythmically, just like us, according to a new study.

Image: Alamy

The research was conducted to investigate the origin of rhythmic abilities in humans, with 636 vocalization recordings from 39 lemurs analyzed.

In addition to showing classic rhythmic categories, the researchers also found a “ritardando” in their songs. The male and female vocalizations had a different tempo, but still had the same rhythm.

Describing the sound of their songs, Alanna Marron, senior education technician at the Duke Lemur Center, said USA today: “It’s incredibly beautiful and spellbinding.”

So why were these large, wet-nosed primates specifically chosen for the experiment?

“In the primate family tree, they’re the exact opposite of us,” Marron explained.

She added, “By studying lemurs and studying the evolution of primates, it allows us to examine the history of primates and how we evolved.”


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