Certain birds can learn how to produce song-like vocalisations, a pre-requisite to learning new songs. Researchers also believe that some animals enjoy similar aspects of sounds just as we enjoy.

Only by combining an examination of species' natural behaviour and artificially testing species for their potentials, that the animal foundations for our musical faculty can be discovered, say a team of researchers led by Marisa Hoeschele from the University of Vienna in Austria.

Just like cross-cultural parallels exist across musical systems, there are also cross-species parallels of song production and perception. For example, think of the songbirds that are named for having song-like vocalisations, they pointed out.

Like songbirds, parrots too can learn to produce their vocalisations and have recently also been shown to be able to identify a beat and move to it. Clearly, some animals appear to have biological adaptations that are quite similar to ours, the study said.

"Our review outlines what we know in the field and where the field needs to go in order to ultimately be able to answer the question of the origins of the human musical capacity," Hoeschele said.

The study was published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.


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