Most of the lemurs, as a result, copy each other's rhythm and synchronize their notes.
Young, lower-ranking indris, however, prefer to sing in antiphony rather than staying in sync with the rest of the lemur chorus, the scientists discovered. These youngsters alternate their notes with those sung by the dominant pair. The researchers propose that this is a tactic that lets the eager semi-outsider maximize his or her solitary singing and emphasize an individual contribution to the song.
RELATED: New Lemur Has Big Feet, Long Tongue
"Synchronized singing doesn't allow a singer to advertise his or her individuality, so it makes sense that young, low-ranking indris sing in antiphony," co-author Giovanna Bonadonna said. "This lets them advertise their fighting ability to members of other groups and signal their individuality to potential sexual partners."
Co-author Cristina Giacoma added, "Indris are indeed good candidates for further investigations into the evolution of vocal communication. The next steps in our studies will be to understand whether the acoustic structure of the units allows individual recognition and whether genetics plays a role in the singing structure."
It should be noted that people pay attention to off key singers too -- sometimes because they are forced to, but willingly at other times. Meryl Streep's upcoming film is a classic example of the latter. The movie, "Florence Foster Jenkins," tells the true story of Jenkins (1868–1944), who was widely regarded as "the worst singer who ever lived. Nevertheless, Jenkins still drew large audiences probably because her sincere effort was such a spectacle.
Here is the real life Jenkins, belting out "Adele's Laughing Song" from the opera Die Fledermaus: