6 animals that science has discovered can dance
From honeybees to cockatoos, the animal kingdom is filled with creatures that like to get down
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, were recently surprised to discover that one of their sea lions can cut a pretty mean rug, especially when Earth Wind & Fire is playing. But the sea lion isn't the only animal that can bust a move. Here, 6 animals that can dance, according to scientists:
1. BeesHoneybees actually use dance to communicate. It's known as the "waggle dance," which was first noticed by Aristotle and later investigated by Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Karl von Frisch in the 1960s. Von Frisch theorized that the strange dance was a way to tell fellow bees where they could find food. Von Frisch's theory was recently confirmed by a group of scientists that tracked the bees' navigation commands using radar transponders. The bees that received directions were even able to make corrections after winds blew them off course.
2. CockatoosA cockatoo named Snowball went viral in 2009 when a video captured him bobbing his head to a Backstreet Boys song. The bird responded similarly to Queen's "Another One Bits the Dust" and Michael Jackson's "Black or White." A neurobiologist at the Neurosciences Institute of San Diego used the famous bird to determine whether cockatoos have natural rhythm, or can simply be trained to respond to music. He appeared to prove the former: When he changed the tempo of a song, the bird adjusted accordingly.
3. The peacock spiderThis colorful arachnid might look like a fearsome creature, but it's actually so small that it can fit on a person's fingertip with room to spare. And it also does a cute dance as part of its mating ritual. In fact, the peacock spider, which is native to Australia, is named for the colorful designs on its abdomen, which can open like a flap as part of its dance. The female uses the dance moves to determine if the male is healthy enough to be an ideal mating partner. No pressure: Those who don't make the cut are killed and eaten by the female.
4. Dung beetlesEven though dung beetles have a brain no bigger than a grain of rice, they have figured out a brilliant way of rolling and transporting their food. And they actually use a peculiar dance to protect their dung balls from rivals that would otherwise steal them. They stand on top of the dung ball, and perform a 360-degree turning dance to get their bearings. Then they use their hind legs to push the ball along.
5. Freshwater algaeEven single-celled organisms like to get jiggy with it. Cambridge University researchers discovered that freshwater algae use two types of dances to reproduce: The waltz and the minuet. Colonies of algae connect to each other with their flagella, and use their free flagella to spin around on an axis. The colonies then either orbit around each other (the waltz), or back and forth "as if held by an elastic band between them" (the minuet), according to Science Daily. These dances help the algae clump together, which facilitates reproduction.
6. The manakin birdThese colorful birds native to Colombia and Ecuador have a mating dance that's probably the most unique in the animal kingdom. First, they make a ticking noise at a prospective mate by flapping their wings at a rapid pace. The wings move so fast that they can't be detected by the naked eye, and were first seen in action when Yale professor Kim Bostwick videotaped the birds with a high-speed camera. Then, after a brief flight, they land on a branch and perform a moonwalk-like dance across it. Watch: