Scientists create mouse that tweets like a bird

The singing mouse developed by the researchers at the University of Osaka as part of their 'Evolved Mouse Project' are prone to miscopying DNA and are more likely to develop mutations.

"Mutations are the driving force of evolution. We have crossbred 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 was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.

According to Uchimura, the "singing mouse" was born by chance but the trait will be passed on to future generations.

"I was surprised because I had been expecting mice that are different in physical shape," he said.

The laboratory, directed by professor Takeshi Yagi at the Osaka University, now has more than 100 "singing mice" for further research, the report said.

The team hopes they will provide clues on how human language evolved, just as researchers in other countries study songbirds such as finches to help them understand the origins of human language.

Scientists have found that birds use different sound elements, put them together into chunks like words in human languages and then make strings of them to sing "songs", that are subject to certain linguistic rules.

"Mice are better than birds to study because they are mammals and much closer to humans in their brain structures and other biological aspects," Uchimura said.

"We are watching how a mouse that emits new sounds would affect ordinary mice in the same group ... in other words if it has social connotations," he said, adding that ordinary mice squeak mainly under stress.

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