The musicality of birds is so complex and almost similar to that of a human that it contradicts evolutionary predictions, a new study says.
The study, published in Royal Society Open Science, investigated the singing performances of Australian pied butcherbirds in the wild and found that their songs have many phrase types, indicating diversity in their songs.
"Since pied butcherbird songs share so many commonalities with human music, this species could possibly revolutionize the way we think about the core values of music," study co-author Hollis Taylor said in a press release.
The scientists investigated if there is a relationship between the complexity and repetition of the birds' songs to find out if the birds are able to balance variety and predictability in their songs—an ability that is characteristically human.
Questions of whether birds employ musical principles in their songs much like humans do used to be a question that scientists dismissed in the past. However, in the present study, scientists discovered that “the more complex bird's repertoire, the better he or she is at singing in time, rhythmically interacting with other birds much more skillfully than those who know fewer songs.”
Butcherbirds are able to skillfully balance their song performance to “keep it in a sweet spot between boredom and confusion,” study co-author Ofer Tchernichovski said.
Apparently, pied butcherbirds are also similar to jazz musicians; they “play around with their tunes, balancing repetition and variation,” Constance Scharff, another co-author of the study, said.
This trait brings to question “the evolutionary model of human origins,” says Jeffrey Tomkins, life sciences director at the Institute for Creation Research.
Tomkins explained in an article that the birds’ ability to sustain rhythm and synchronization is not significant for survival.
“By itself, the mysterious and inherent musical ability of humans presents a major problem for evolutionary proponents. Rhythm and synchronous ability do not provide any apparent selectable advantage for survival,” Tomkins wrote.
He argued that if evolution were true, humans’ musical ability should be observed “at a reduced level” among apes, which evolutionists claim to be the humans’ closest ancestor. If the apes don’t exhibit the ability, evolution dicatates that it would not be exhibited in “lower” animals like birds.
“But as is typical in the amazing diversity of life on Earth, we see unimaginable engineered complexity at every level that utterly defies evolutionary predictions and points directly to God's omnipotent creative powers,” Tomkins wrote.
Watch the video to witness the singing performance of the pied butcherbird.