The Daily Telegraph

Blame the old man for your dad dancing: it’s in his genes

- By Joe Pinkstone SCIENCE CORRESPOND­ENT

IF YOUR dancefloor prowess is limited to clumsy dad dancing then you can blame your father’s genes, but unfortunat­ely you will probably pass it on to your own children.

Data show that the ability to stick to a rhythm is a partially hereditary trait encoded in genes.

A team of researcher­s in the US analysed genetic data from more than 600,000 people and looked at their ability to synchronis­e with a beat, and found varying degrees of skill.

Participan­ts were asked to tap along to four 30-second excerpts from You’re the First, the Last, My Everything by Barry White, El Contrapunt­o by Los Mensajeros de la Libertad, The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky and Possessed to Skate by Suicidal Tendencies.

The study revealed that 69 genes are instrument­al in keeping time, a skill called “beat synchronis­ation”.

In total, up to 16 per cent of a person’s rhythmic skill is down to their genes, the authors write in their study, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Environmen­t plays a key role in the other 84 per cent and rhythmic ability can be enhanced with training, even if the genetic lottery is fixed at birth.

The genes responsibl­e for musical locomotion were also found to be linked to other motor skills, such as walking and breathing.

This could indicate that humans have an innate ability to follow rhythms owing to a shared genetic framework which is stronger in some than others.

Data in the study came from the central database of the genetics company 23andme, which has informatio­n from millions of people who have willingly shared their DNA.

The scale of the dataset offered a “unique opportunit­y” to spot even small changes in genetic patterns, said Dr David Hinds, a statistica­l geneticist at the California-based company and co-author of the study.

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