While Ronan had to be taught her one dance move, Snowball appears to have invented an entire repertoire all on his own. "The fact that we see this in another animal suggests that if you have a brain with certain cognitive and neural capacities, you are predisposed to dance", he added.
But nearly nothing - not the dogs and cats we share our homes with, nor the apes and monkeys who are our closest genetic relatives - could do what Snowball does.
The sulphur-crested cockatoo was filmed swinging from side to side, lunging and lifting his foot as he grooved to Another One Bites The Dust and Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
But shortly after that study concluded, Snowball's owner (and co-author of the more recent paper) Irena Schulz contacted Patel after her bird had begun to explore new moves he's devised himself in response to music.
Ever the entertainer, Snowball performed 14 unique dances when prompted by music, according to findings published Monday in Current Biology. Each time he heard a particular tune he danced a little differently, a sign of flexibility and perhaps even creativity. But recent studies show to some degree. A new study reveals that the internet-famous cockatoo named Snowball can do more than just bust moves - whether headbanging, wildly tapping its foot or gyrating its mohawked head - in sync with the beat of the music. Snowball's skills included a body roll, head bobs, foot lifts, head banging and a move reminiscent of Madonna's '90s Vogue dance craze.
Snowball's movements seemed to constitute dancing rather than having a specific objective, like traveling.
"Irena Schulz noticed that he was making some new movements to music when she danced with him, including things that she wasn't doing", Patel said.
To analyze Snowball's movements, the study's first author R. Joanne Jao Keehn, a cognitive neuroscientist and a classically and contemporarily trained dancer, used frame-by-frame analysis with the audio muted. However, after spending a decade learning his broad repertoire of bangs, hops, and lifts, researchers recommend that parrots and people share a bent to dance when the music strikes them.
Snowball isn't the first parrot to move to the music, but there has been uncertainty about how such moves are acquired.
"It seems -and that's what makes the paper interesting - that cockatoos have reached the same point [as humans]. where the convergence of different traits that may have developed separately suddenly come together to be able to form something new", Professor Kaplan said. "They typically seek out other people and they act socially", said Patel.
"He seemed to be experimenting with new moves, and so we chose to try and study that properly because that was the second interesting parallel to humans".