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Snowball the headbanging cockatoo has 14 different dance moves

Snowball can headbang, vogue and body roll as well as tap his feet to the beat.
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2007 file photo, Snowball, a medium sulfur-crested Eleonora cockatoo, dances to the Backstreet Boys song "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" in the Schererville, Ind., home of Irena Schulz. (AP Photo/The Times, Christopher Smith)

You may remember Snowball, who became a 2007 YouTube star after his dance performance to the Backstreet Boy's "Everybody" went viral.

Researchers have been studying the cockatoo's skills for more than a decade and now say parrots and humans both share an affinity for dancing along to music that moves them, according to a study published in Current Biology.

Aniruddh Patel and his colleagues at Tufts University found that Snowball has at least 14 different dance moves. Researchers say Snowball's repertoire includes body rolls, foot tapping, headbanging and vogueing.

NPR spoke with Patel in 2009 and said he was astonished after seeing Snowball's original viral video on YouTube.

"I said, you know, this is much more than just a cute pet trick. This is potentially scientifically very important," he said.

Researchers said their findings are evidence that birds can be capable of "sophisticated cognitive control and a level of creativity previously unseen in other species," CNN reported.

The study said Snowball taught himself these different dance moves. Snowball, the researchers said, does not dance for food or in order to mate, but rather "his dancing appears to be a social behavior used to interact with human caregivers (his surrogate flock)." 

"Dancing is not just purely a product of human cultural invention," Patel told NPR. "It's a response to music that arises when certain cognitive and neural capacities come together in an animal brain."

Snowball, now in his early 20s, is still alive and dancing well at a bird shelter with his owner, a co-author of the study. 

Check out some of Snowball's dance moves below:

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