The newest singing sensation in the animal kingdom? Mice.
When sexually excited.
Are you man or mouse?
|By Rick Yerman Mice sang happily
while considering new mates.
Hearing, do cats clap?
“The creatures (mice) not only sing ultrasonic melodies high above sopranos, distinct from their regular squeaks, but they also learn new tunes from each other, researchers report today.”
Song learning is known to exist in humans, dolphins, songbirds and parrots, but the new research overthrows a 50-year assumption that mouse vocalizing is inborn and instead shows that mice have a rudimentary vocal system to control their vocal cords and learn new tunes.
“The mouse brain and behavior for vocal communication is not as primitive and as innate as myself and many other scientists have considered it to be,” senior author Erich Jarvis, a neurobiologist at Duke University, told LiveScience.”
“Mice have more similarities in their vocal communication with humans than other species like our closest relatives,” Jarvis added, referring to chimpanzees”.
“Generally, vocalizing comes from a coordinated effort between the brain’s motor cortex, which controls voluntary muscles, and the vocal cords in the larynx. Jarvis and colleagues found a rudimentary indirect connection in mice between the two, absent in chimpanzees and monkeys” (and me).
“The findings may also impact human speech disorders such as those found in autism, commonly studied in mice genetically engineered to mimic the disorders.”
“Previous research had shown male mice become mini-Pavarottis when sexually excited by the female
scent. But the new research suggests mice are able to mimic new songs.”
“These results came to light after placing two mice strains with different vocal ranges, like tenors and basses, in the same cage with females. After eight weeks, the tenors sang in the lower bass range. Some basses sang higher, but most continued to sing in the same register.”
“In other words, the mice changed their tune in front of the ladies so they all sounded pretty much the same, Jarvis said.”