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Mus-ical musculus

February 2, 2012

Eva Gusnowski

Girls dig rock stars. The swooning, the crooning…it’s all good. We aren’t the only ones who know this though…your friendly neighborhood house mouse does too.

Not only do mice squeak within the realms of human hearing, they emit ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) that we can’t hear. So some astute scientists decided to record some of these USVs and see what the deal was; what they found was quite unexpected.

mus-ical musculus, science in seconds

 

Mus musculus males are, in fact, crooners…it’s their way to show off the goods to females during courtship. Analysis of the USVs revealed that the songs that the male mice sing were quite complex and had elements of melody, similar to birdsongs. These songs include syllables, temporal patterning and the use of repeated phrases.

Not only that, but male mice have a family song that they put their own twist on. This means that those mice that are closely related together will have and recognize a similar tune. Recognizing these family melodies is thought to prevent inbreeding between closely related individuals and all of the problems that are inherent with this. The next step is going to be looking at the social and genetic factors that affect these songs and the behaviors that go along with them.

If only a song would work long term, right John Mayer?

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