Question: What does a cow have in common with a crocodile?
Answer: They both enjoy classical music.
Research by several universities reports a variety of findings about the kinds of music that animals (and mosquitoes) respond to and how they react to it. For example…
Cows, ©Dariusz Gora/Shutterstock via Encyclopedia Britannica
A herd of 1,000 cows were played music at 100 and 120 beats per minute for 12 hour periods (poor things) by researchers at the University of Leicester. When they were milked, their production was three percent higher after listening to the slower beat of Everybody Hurts by R.E.M, or Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, than the faster beats of Jamiroquai’s Space Cowboy and The Wonder Stuff’s Size of a Cow.
Crocodile, photographer Leigh Bedford, via Wikipedia
A crocodile, studied under fMRI technology (not an easy task), experienced complicated brain activity during exposure to complex stimuli such as classical music, compared to when it was exposed to just simple sounds. The study, led by Dr Felix Ströckens from the Department of Biopsychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, showed that the crocodile’s brain processing patterns strongly resemble the patterns identified in mammals and birds in similar studies. (source)
We think of crocodiles as being as primitive, as we think of its ancestor, the dinosaur, as primitive. But somewhere along the line, the transformation took place from primitive brain responses to more advanced responses.
Rat Gambling, iStock photo via KQED.org
Loud music and flashing lights, like you might experience in a casino, caused rats to ‘gamble’ their sugary treats, according to a 2016 Canadian study. Do you suppose that’s why casinos are filled with loud sounds and flashing lights?
Watch as much of this video as you can….
I share the video to illustrate a point made by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
In its study of The Effect of Background Music in Shark Documentaries on Viewers’ Perceptions of Sharks, the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity found that humans have an exaggerated fear of sharks because of the scary music accompanying their presence in movies and documentaries. The authors propose that the scary music negatively affects the support of shark conservation efforts.
In 2009, Harvard researchers concluded that birds that can imitate sounds, like parrots, are also able to keep a beat. The canny researchers conducted their observations on posted YouTube videos!
But, more recently, researchers at the University of Santa Cruz show that Ronan, the sea lion, can keep a beat better than most humans, even though he cannot mimic sounds. This is a must-see video of Ronan.
Cat music bears little resemblance to human music, which is, unsurprisingly, ignored by cats. It is composed of sounds that are soothing to cats – musical sounds, not the sounds of other animals.
“We are not actually replicating cat sounds,” said lead author Charles Snowdon who composed music for cats at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We are trying to create music with a pitch and tempo that appeals to cats.” (via) Study findings are reported here.
Music is used to relax dogs in kennels. Scottish SPCA via BBC News
Ah, dogs. Well, it turns out that for one reason or another, dogs spend considerable time in kennels. We kennel them in cars, at home, at the vet, and various other places. Being shut up in a kennel is not a dog’s dream, but a human necessity.
So what’s the most relaxing music for dogs who are cooped up? In a 2016 study by the University of Glasgow researchers experimented with a variety of kinds of music while monitoring the physiological responses of SPCA cooped-up dogs. It turns out that dogs like reggae and soft rock and that they also appreciate variety in the songs played.
Aeidis Aegypti mosquito, by Muhammad Mahdi Karim via Wikipedia
Now, here’s some information that might help humans avoid getting bitten by the little buggers. Loud electronic music like dubstep, may be the best mosquito repellent yet. Mosquitoes stay away from it. And the louder the music, the less likely mosquitoes will mate, as the male will not hear the low sounds of the female’s wings nearby. Mosquitoes also bite less frequently when the music is played, making the Aedes aegypti, known as the ‘yellow fever mosquito,’ less of a threat.
Play this music when you’re sitting outside some summer evening and see if you get bitten. It’s worth a try!
This fascinating animal research helps us better understand the instincts and abilities of the creatures that share our world. I love this stuff, don’t you?
Original source: BBC Science Focus