Researchers Discover Baby Seals Have A Sense Of Rhythm

Music is a universal language that virtually everyone can enjoy. Even animals can get down to some tunes every now and again, and seals are no exception.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen decided to study just how seals react to music and the results are adorable.

Photo: Pexels/Barthy Bonhomme

According to a press release from the institute, researchers played some different recordings behind a group of 1-year-old seals to see how they’d respond.

Each time the seals would turn their heads around to look at the source of the sounds, researchers would note it and consider them “interested” in the different rhythmic properties.

Photo: PublicDomainPictures/David Bollard

The results were clear: Seals turned their heads for recordings that were longer, faster, or rhythmically regular.

The results of the research were published in a report, titled “Spontaneous rhythm discrimination in a mammalian vocal learner,” which was published Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters.

Photo: Pexels/Elianne Dipp

The study results show that seals are capable of discerning between regular and irregular sequences of sounds, with short and long verses and fast and slow tempos. Even without treats or motivation, it seems that seals are interested in music.

The study’s lead author, Laura Verga, said in the press release: “Similarly to human babies, the rhythm perception we find in seals arises early in life, is robust and requires neither training nor reinforcement. This is a significant advance in the debate over the evolutionary origins of human speech and musicality, which are still rather mysterious.”

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