Japan bio-scientists produce 'singing mouse'

Dec 21, 2010 by Miwa Suzuki
Japanese scientists said they had produced a mouse that tweets like a bird in a genetically engineered "evolution" which they hope will shed light on the origins of human language.

Japanese scientists said Tuesday they had produced a mouse that tweets like a bird in a genetically engineered "evolution" which they hope will shed light on the origins of human language.

A team of researchers at the University of Osaka created the animal in their "Evolved Project", in which they use genetically modified mice that are prone to miscopying DNA and thus to mutations.

"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 told AFP.

"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.

"I was surprised because I had been expecting mice that are different in physical shape," he said by telephone, adding that in fact the project had also produced "a mouse with short limbs and a tail like a dachshund".

The laboratory, directed by professor Takeshi Yagi at the Osaka University's Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences in western Japan, now has more than 100 "singing mice" for further research.

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

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.

Considering that mutant mice tweet louder when put in different environments or when males are put together with females, Uchimura said their chirps "may be some sort of expressions of their emotions or bodily conditions."

The team has found that ordinary mice that grew up with mice emitted fewer ultrasounds than others, which could indicate that communication methods can spread in the same group like a dialect.

Uchimura dreams of further "evolution" of mice through genetic engineering.

"I know it's a long shot and people would say it's 'too absurd'... but I'm doing this with hopes of making a Mickey Mouse some day," he said.

Explore further: Bioengineering study finds two-cell mouse embryos already talking about their future

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Digi
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2010
I feel uneasy in the rather flippant way they are 'evolving' mice through genetic engineering hoping for some mutation that will be of interest. Life is cheap I guess.
gmurphy
4.1 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2010
I was hoping for a video of this singing mouse, preferably doing a rendition of Figaro :)
Raveon
not rated yet Dec 21, 2010
Maybe they are attempting communication at a more complex level than normal mice. Since they are a new mutant they wouldn't have a language yet. It seems to me that it would be much more interesting to see how the chirping evolves when they are kept with their own kind for many generations. They should carefully record their vocalizations now for future comparison.
_nigmatic10
3 / 5 (2) Dec 21, 2010
Polly want a piece of cheese?
Husky
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2010
yes i too have a feeling of uneasyness about the japanese view of evolving stuff, it could well be expose mouse to DNA altrering pesticides or radiation, just throw in a few thousand mice, expose them to random harmfull ways and see what floats, i don't say thats exactly what they did, but it sounded like straight from the cyborg NOD lab
NotAsleep
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2010
In 10 years they'll have a flying, fire breathing dragon mouse with which to take over the world!!!
visual
3 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2010
I now imagine our future as "Planet of the apes" but with mice instead of apes, and apparently it will be called "Disney world".
Physmet
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2010
I was looking for a video somewhere, but came across this old Time Magazine article from 1936. It appears that this occurs naturally from time to time. It's still a crazy genetic alteration, but it is not an evolved form never seen before. http://www.time.c...,00.html
lexington
2.7 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2010
I feel uneasy in the rather flippant way they are 'evolving' mice through genetic engineering hoping for some mutation that will be of interest. Life is cheap I guess.

They're evolving the mice by breeding them, just like nature does. Sounds like they just altered the germline once.
Quantum_Conundrum
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2010
They'll end up with some freaky stuff if they keep re-breeding them with their cousin over and over for 5 or 10 generations. Going to be non-viable offsrping at some point.

Maybe the mice are experimenting on the humans.
Donutz
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2010
It's Pinky and the Brain, Pinky and the Brain,
One is a genius, the other's quite insane...
Donutz
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2010
They're evolving the mice by breeding them, just like nature does. Sounds like they just altered the germline once.


Correct. The original mutation was one that allowed the mice to mutate easily. They probably turned off some of the error-correcting mechanisms.
NotAsleep
1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2010
I wonder if the ratio of unfavorable mutations to favorable mutations is predicatble, or if the percentage of miscarriage is proportionate to the number of live births. We might be able to use this data to predict evolution for other animals
aorora
5 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2010
let's not forgert the fact that japanese actually genetically modified the mice to be prone to mutations ( a critical change in the DNA stability) that makes it mutate frequenty that's why such unexpected mutations occured .
I mean they interfered with the integrity of the DNA and highly reduced the time naturally needed for such mutation so ( evolve) is not the right word to be used here.

Scott_T
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2010
Here you go, the singing mouse!
http://www.youtub...37VvCozw
SoulmanOtto
1 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2010
Here you go, the singing mouse!
http://www.youtub...37VvCozw

Ahaahaaaa!!!! This would SELL!! does anybody see the marketing value of this? I always thought rabbits or cats that size would sell.

Let's see them make a chimp that can TALK.
braindead
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
http://www.youtub...ZO82tkgw

and here is another video of the singing mouse.
kevinrtrs
1.6 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2010
in which they use genetically modified mice that are prone to miscopying DNA and thus to mutations.

So here we have an intelligent being interfering with the genetic make-up of an animal possibly by removing the elaborate built-in error correction code. Then they can exclaim that evolution is rushing forth at full speed and just look at what it has produced so far! Evolution works! Everybody is happy.
And everybody is happily forgetting that it took intelligence to know what to tinker with as well as possibly also removing the error-correcting code put there in the first place by another far superior intelligence specifically to prevent such identity misplacement.
Way to go to show that evolution works - give it an intelligent, designing helping hand.

SoulmanOtto
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2010
possibly by removing the elaborate built-in error correction code.
Kevin where'd you get this from? Fearmongers in Christ newsletter? Or did you make it up yourself?

You show whoever reads your posts just how dangerous Xian paranoia and ignorance can be to scientific inquiry. And how important it is to fight it's influence by countering it wherever it it presents itself. Thanks- keep up the good work.
Donutz
5 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2010
You show whoever reads your posts just how dangerous Xian paranoia and ignorance can be to scientific inquiry. And how important it is to fight it's influence by countering it wherever it it presents itself. Thanks- keep up the good work.


Yeah, I mock kevin, but he and others like him are the best advertising you can get for the need to combat religious ignorance.

Other idiocies like holocaust denialism are actually given a chance to thrive because the morons are not allowed to post their lunacies on places like this. They can not only claim martyrdom, but they don't see their arguments getting refuted (so they MUST be right!)
Skeptic_Heretic
3.8 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2010
The most powerful piece of atheist propaganda is...

The holy books taken at face value. THere's a reason why the church didn't want the Bible translated from latin. It would be too easy for the common person to read it and see that the Emperor has no clothes.
neiorah
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2010
I would like to hear how the mouse sounds.
EvgenijM
5 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2010
So here we have an intelligent being interfering with the genetic make-up of an animal possibly by removing the elaborate built-in error correction code. Then they can exclaim that evolution is rushing forth at full speed and just look at what it has produced so far! Evolution works! Everybody is happy.
And everybody is happily forgetting that it took intelligence to know what to tinker with as well as possibly also removing the error-correcting code put there in the first place by another far superior intelligence specifically to prevent such identity misplacement.
Way to go to show that evolution works - give it an intelligent, designing helping hand.

You miss the point of evolution then. Evolution is not about what causes life to change or how it began. It is about the fact that life can change, replicate and filtered. Even a computer algorithm can be a subject to evolution - if it can mutate, replicate and there is a some sort of a filter that chooses the "best" mutations.
EvgenijM
4 / 5 (2) Dec 27, 2010
Watch this video for example - http://www.youtub...VZJMm5XA

It does not matter for evolution if there is an intelligent help or not, just like 2+2=4 is true regardless if humanity exist or not.
EvgenijM
3.5 / 5 (2) Dec 27, 2010
And also think about this - if life on earth is not a subject to evolution, then what can you say about creator of such life? Is it really interesting to create static life, instead of dynamic life with an endless potential to change?

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