Photo credit: Osaka University via Discovery News
In order to study how language evolves, scientists in Japan have created a mouse that can tweet and chirp like a bird. Apparently the mutation was a complete accident as they bred generations of genetically engineered mice with various mutations to see what happens. They're now hoping to capitalize on by coaxing out the mutation in future generations. They hope that the singing mice will reveal clues about language evolution such as the formation of dialects. Discovery News writes that the Osaka University's Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences in western Japan now has more than 100 "singing mice" for further research in learning how human language evolved. Some scientists study songbirds, but mice have a brain chemistry much closer to humans, so the researchers figured why not combine the two and create a chirping mouse.
"The team has found that ordinary mice that grew up with singing mice emitted fewer ultrasounds than others, which could indicate that communication methods can spread in the same group like a dialect."
"Mutations are the driving force of evolution. We have cross-bred the genetically modified mice for generations to see what would happen," lead researcher Arikuni Uchimura said.
"We checked the newly born mice one by one... One day we found a mouse that was singing like a bird," he said, noting that the "singing mouse" was born by chance but that the trait will be passed on to future generations.
While this outcome of the experiment seems interesting enough, what other less fortunate or compelling mutations are resulting with the dice-rolling genetic mutation game is not reported.
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