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Scientists create singing mouse

5 January 2011

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Category: Research & medical benefits

mice–mouse–test–tube.jpgScientists have created a mouse that is said to sing like a bird.

The mouse was created by an unexpected genetic mutation in the 'Evolved Mouse Project'. Mice used in the project are prone to mis-copy DNA and so offspring are likely to carry genetic mutations.

It had been expected that most of the mutations would change the physical shape of the mice. Other modified mice had shorter limbs and tails. But the researchers were surprised to find one of the mice tweeting like a bird. As the genetic mutation is passed on to offspring, the researchers now have over 100 'singing' mice.

The Evolved Mouse Project cross-breeds modified mice for many generations. In doing so, scientists are able to artificially speed up and direct mouse evolution.

It is thought that the sounds mice emit play a social function. Normally mice will only squeak at frequencies humans can hear when under stress. But the 'singing' mice tweet louder in different environments or when male and females are put together. This suggests the mice's tweets may be an expression of their emotions or bodily conditions.

The researchers are now observing whether the 'singing' mice affect the behaviour of other mice in the same social group.

Watch the singing mouse here.