Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mice can sing - Who knew?

In experiments to test how male mice responded to sex pheromones found in the urine of female mice, neurobiologists at Washington University in St. Louis, Tim Holy and Zhongsheng Guo, recorded male mice as they sniffed a cotton ball soaked in a female mouse’s urine. Within seconds of smelling the urine of a female who is ready to mate, the male mice broke into song, inaudible to the human ear. The male mice were genetically identical and were all the same age. Surprisingly, each mouse sang his own individual song. It isn’t certain if the best singers win the most desirable females as is often the case with birds.

This link takes you to a recording of a mouse singing.
It has been lowered four octaves but left at the original speed. The singing sounds like birds twittering. It brings to my mind an imagine of birds and mice, perched side by side in the tree tops, twittering.

At this link the recording has been lowered four octaves and also slowed down sixteen-fold. This sounds more like whistling. Notes seem to be repeated to make a melody.

The researchers didn’t check to see if the female mice sing. Wouldn’t that be interesting to know?
Information from “National Geographic News” - November 1, 2005
Mouse.John Good .NPS Photo.

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