|Kuni and daughter, Kenge|
(from Large & Gray, 2015).
The study appears to be a demonstration that a bonobo can temporally coordinate rhythmic movements with another drummer, "restricted to certain trials and certain individual episodes" (Large & Gray, 2015). As such, it is one of an increasing number of studies that suggests beat perception and synchronization not to be restricted to species that are vocal mimics (cf. Patel, 2006), but a capability that is more widely dispersed across species, and that might have gradually evolved in primates (Merchant & Honing, 2014). Nevertheless, the authors note – quite rightly – that the extent to which this synchronization depends on visual (i.e., observing the human drummer’s arm movements) versus auditory rhythm information remains an open question. Their are currently several groups working on this topic and I’m sure a more complete picture will be available soon on this intriguing and fundamental musical skill.
Large, E., & Gray, P. (2015). Spontaneous tempo and rhythmic entrainment in a bonobo (Pan paniscus). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 129 (4), 317-328 DOI: 10.1037/com0000011
Merchant, H., & Honing, H. (2014). Are non-human primates capable of rhythmic entrainment? Evidence for the gradual audiomotor evolution hypothesis. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7 (274) 1-8. doi 10.3389/fnins.2013.00274