Some animals, like humans, can sense and respond to a musical beat, a finding that has implications for understanding how the skill evolved, a UNCG professor and another scientist reported recently at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The research was covered by Reuters News Agency and Science News.

A study of bonobos, closely related to chimpanzees, shows they have an innate ability to match tempo and synchronize a beat with human experimenters, the news outlets reported.

For the study, researchers designed a drum able to withstand 500 pounds of jumping pressure, chewing and other ape-like behaviors.

“Bonobos are very attuned to sound. They hear above our range of hearing,” said Dr. Patricia Gray, director of UNCG’s biomusic program in the School of Music, Theater and Dance.

Experimenters beat a drum at a tempo favored by bonobos. The apes picked up the beat and synchronized using the bonobo drum. The research was conducted at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida by Gray and psychologist Edward Large of the University of Connecticut.