Viking mice tell tales of British Isles

October 1, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The humble house mouse can tell us a lot about the history of colonisation on the British Isles according to research published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Scientists say that as humans have long transported house mice in their ships, their colonisation history should reflect human migrations and trading links.

Mapping genetic traits found in house mice against their geographic location scientists have been able to plot the movements of both men and mice. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen's Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences and researchers from the University of York studied DNA sequence variations in 328 mice from 105 localities.

Their research found that mice from the northern and western peripheries of the British Isles apparently arrived and colonised with the Norwegian Vikings. Mice from most of mainland Britain show some of the same DNA sequences as mice from Germany, probably reflecting the movements of Iron Age people and mice.

The research has the potential to reveal novel aspects of human history. As house mice would have needed large human settlements to form viable populations, the movements of mice may point to earlier development of these settlements than first thought.

Scientists hope that future studies with mice will help document more fine-scale Viking movements such as the colonisation of different parts of Faroe, Iceland and even North America.

Provided by University of Aberdeen

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Short wavelength plasmons observed in nanotubes

July 28, 2015

The term "plasmons" might sound like something from the soon-to-be-released new Star Wars movie, but the effects of plasmons have been known about for centuries. Plasmons are collective oscillations of conduction electrons ...

Sydney makes its mark with electronic paper traffic signs

July 28, 2015

Visionect, which is in the business of helping companies build electronic paper display products, announced that Sydney has launched e-paper traffic signs. The traffic signage integrates displays from US manufacturer E Ink ...

New chemistry makes strong bonds weak

July 28, 2015

Researchers at Princeton have developed a new chemical reaction that breaks the strongest bond in a molecule instead of the weakest, completely reversing the norm for reactions in which bonds are evenly split to form reactive ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.