Monkeys bust a move. 

University of Warwick

A dancing monkey trained by humans is no surprise to the scientific community. But for what may be the first time, psychologists have observed two chimpanzees cutting a rug without human prompting, in closely synchronized movement that resembled a conga line. 

“Here, we present the first evidence for co-synced rhythmic entrainment between two great apes in a naturalistic environment,” University of Warwick researchers wrote in an article published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports.

This was no simple two-step. The researchers found that the levels of motor coordination, synchronization and rhythm between the two female chimpanzees matched the levels of rhythm shown by orchestra players who perform together.

“Dance is an icon of human expression. Despite astounding diversity around the world’s cultures and dazzling abundance of reminiscent animal systems, the evolution of dance in the human clade remains obscure,” Adriano Lameira, one of the University of Warwick researchers, said in a statement

The researchers say this evidence of synced and rhythmic movement in great apes could help scientists discover the origins of human dance.