Lyrebirds groove to different beats

By Laurene Joost 28 November 2013
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Lyrebirds have varied dance moves for different tunes, a new study reveals. With VIDEO.

Credit: Australian National University

AS HUMANS DO, LYREBIRDS match different dances to different songs when looking to lure a partner.

While experts already knew that these birds use dancing to woo potential mates, a new study has revealed their moves are much more sophisticated than first thought.

“Humans match their dance movements to kinds of music – we salsa to salsa music and dance waltz to waltz music,” says Dr Anastasia Dalziell, lead researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra. “We found that lyrebirds similarly match different dance movements to different songs.”

Song and dance: Lyrebird mating rituals

The dance inventory of the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) contains a range of performances including tail postures, steps, jumps and wing flaps (see video above).

The findings, published this week in the journal Current Biology, reveal that each bird performs in a particular order – song A is accompanied by dance A, song B comes next, with its own matching dance, and so on, until the end of the performance.

If the bird is lucky, the song and dance display will be followed by mating.

Despite this order of process, Anastasia says the performers may still make mistakes which could work to their detriment.

“These displays can be cognitively and physically demanding,” she says. “Female lyrebirds are very picky and only the most accomplished males will impress.”

To see the full video from ANU, click here.

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