The singing lemurs have the same musical chops humans do, study finds

Singing lemurs categorical rhythm

A lemur making sure it's ready for its next recital.

The Indri indri of Madagascar are not only the largest of the lemur species, they're also talented singers. And now, thanks to a new study, they might be the next piece to solve the mystery of "where does music come from?"

As it turns out, it might have not started with humans.

"There is longstanding interest in understanding how human musicality evolved, but musicality is not restricted to humans," said Dr. Andrea Ravignani, leader of an international research team whose primary focus is finding musical abilities in primates, according to Sci News.

She continued that "looking for musical features in other species allows us to build an 'evolutionary tree' of musical traits, and understand how rhythm capacities originated and evolved in humans." Being one of the few non-human mammals capable of this kind of musical feat made them the perfect candidates for researchers looking to study the potential origins of rhythm.

Lemurs have rhythm like human music.An indri lemur on Wikipedia.upload.wikimedia.org

"In the primate family tree they're on the exact opposite end from us. In studying lemurs and studying primate evolution, that allows us to look at the history of primates and how we evolved," Alanna Marron, lead educational technician at the Duke Lemur Center said in an article for USA Today.

Lemurs have a history of being a malleable species. The Duke Lemur Center explained that these adorable monkey-squirrels floated from Africa to Madagascar by accident, and dropped into brand new biological challenges that required adaptation to survive. Perhaps singing was one of the adaptations.

These tree-dwelling chorus singers fill the rainforest canopies with a series of loud, uniquely high-pitched howls, sounding a bit like an eerie squeak toy that's being slowly squeezed. As social creatures, Lemurs might use the calls to mark territory, attract mates and give warning signals. "Everyone has a different part in it," said Marron. "Usually, the adult pair is the one in the family group that does the most of the singing…If they feel scared or threatened, they will make vocalizations to warn everybody else in the area."

Singing indri lemur.www.youtube.com

Okay, they make sounds, but is it music? Research says "yes."

The study, published in the journal Current Biology (paywall), shared that researchers listened to 636 recordings of vocalizations from 39 adult indris. After dedicating 12 years to the task, the team discovered that the lemurs could sing with categorical rhythm.

For those wondering what the heck that means (I sure did), Dr Ravignani explained that "rhythm is categorical when intervals between sounds have exactly the same duration (1:1 rhythm) or doubled duration (1:2 rhythm)." It's what makes a song recognizable even when played or sung at different speeds, and it's universally found in human music, but never before heard in animals minus birds.

The lemurs even manage to sing in a rhythm similar to "We Will Rock You," according to the study. That's something most humans can't accomplish even on the best karaoke night.

As the "last common ancestor between humans and indri lived 77.5 million years ago," it certainly gives some interesting insight as to how our sense of music might have started as a means for survival. Although it doesn't indicate why some people are blessed with a keen sense of rhythm, and others (like myself) struggle to "feel the beat." Don't even get me started on pitch.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Rusty Watson on Unsplash

A few simple tweaks to go from "Yuck!" to "Yum!"

Sure, you might find an adventurous 3-year-old who enjoys sushi and salads from time to time. But generally speaking, toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. If a meal strays even an inch beyond the comfort zone of french fries and grilled cheese, it’s a hard no. Followed by tears. Or maybe screaming. Or both.

However, Emma Hubbard, a pediatric occupational therapist, is convinced that even the finickiest kid can be coaxed into expanding their palate with just a few simple yet effective tweaks.

As Hubbard mentions in her video, new food isn’t just unpleasant for toddlers—it’s downright scary. “Toddlers have a genuine fear of trying new food,” she said, which explains why they have such a visceral fight-or-flight reaction and “become overwhelmed and run away, have a tantrum, or shut down.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

Keep ReadingShow less

She quit teaching, works at Costco, and has 'never been happier.' That says something.

Maggie Perkins' viral videos and unique perspective have ignited the conversation around teacher attrition.

Maggie Perkins doesn't miss having a winter break.

Maggie Perkins loves teaching, loves teachers and loves students. In fact, she loves them so much that working on her Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Practice. Her research is focused on teacher attrition, examining why quality, experienced teachers quit the profession—something she understands all too well since she recently became one of them.

The former educator now works at Costco and she says she's never been happier. Her migraines are gone. Her anxiety has improved. She sleeps through the night. As an entry-level employee, she makes less money than she did teaching, but not enough less to make a difference in her financial situation. She goes home from work happy at the end of the day.

Perkins has been sharing the contrast in working conditions between the classroom and Costco on her TikTok channel and it is eye-opening, to say the least.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Late Late Show with James Corden/Youtube

The instructors were ruthless.

If you’re not familiar with James Corden’s popular "Toddlerography" segment, you’re in for a treat.

As the name suggests, celebrity guests on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” take a dance class taught by kiddy instructors. Sure, the “students” are usually pretty seasoned performers, like Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, and Jason Derulo, but their experience doesn’t make learning the moves any less intense. Anyone who’s tried to keep pace with a toddler knows it’s a helluva workout.

Billy Porter was the latest guest invited to participate in this wholesome fitness trend, and he did not disappoint.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Freepik

A new mother struggling with postpartum depression.

We may be just months away from having the first-ever pill to help treat postpartum depression (PPD). The drug, called Zuranolone, was developed by Sage Therapeutics and Biogen, two companies out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The FDA has given the drug’s application priority review and the period ends on August 5, 2023.

Currently, there is only one FDA-approved medication for PPD, Zulresso, which is only available through a 60-hour, one-time infusion and can cost up to $35,000 per treatment.

If the medication is approved, it can also be used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD).

Keep ReadingShow less