Researchers discover mice speak similarly to humans

Researchers discover mice speak similarly to humans
Credit: Northern Arizona University

Grasshopper mice (genus Onychomys), rodents known for their remarkably loud call, produce audible vocalizations in the same way that humans speak and wolves howl, according to new research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Grasshopper mice employ both a traditional whistle-like mechanism used by other mice and rats and a unique airflow-induced tissue vibration like that of humans.

Researchers from Northern Arizona University, Midwestern University at Glendale and Ritsumeikan University in Japan used heliox experiments, laryngeal and vocal tract morphological investigations and biomechanical modelling to investigate how produce spectacular long-distance calls.

"Our findings provide the first evidence of a mouse that produces sound like humans and sets the stage for studies on vocal injuries and aging," said lead author Bret Pasch, NAU assistant professor and Merriam-Powell Center affiliate. "Moreover, the research provides a baseline for a larger comparative analysis of vocalizations in rodents, which comprise more than 40 percent of mammalian diversity but whose many voices remain undiscovered."

Grasshopper are predatory rodents that inhabit deserts, grasslands and prairies of the western United States and northern Mexico. Like most mice, mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations above the range of human hearing in close-distance social interactions through whistle-like mechanisms.

Unlike other mice, grasshopper mice also produce long-distance audible vocalizations, or advertisement vocalizations. Naturalist Vernon Bailey described the call of grasshopper mice as a "wolf's howl in miniature." Both male and female animals often assume an upright posture and open their mouths widely to generate a loud call that may carry more than 100 meters. Grasshopper mice have relatively large home ranges, so their calls serve as a mechanism to detect mates and competitors across large distances.

Imaging the voice box of grasshopper mice revealed a thin layer of connective tissue and a tiny structure called a vocal membrane previously only described in detail in echolocating bats. In addition, the mice possess a bell-shaped , similar in shape to a loudspeaker, which increases vocal intensity, just like opera singers.


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More information: Bret Pasch et al. Grasshopper mice employ distinct vocal production mechanisms in different social contexts, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1158
Citation: Researchers discover mice speak similarly to humans (2017, July 21) retrieved 17 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-07-mice-similarly-humans.html
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Jul 21, 2017
What About Cat & Dog Pets?

Jul 21, 2017
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Jul 22, 2017
Mice are found to use surprisingly complex calls allowing them 'to talk like humans speak and how wolves howl' !
When Mice (Birds Too, Each other's Chirping) can understand each other's calls and Wolves can understand each other's howls, WHY HUMANS are STILL not capable of saying what they all mean even in 2017, particularly with Super Computers in their hands?

Jul 22, 2017
researchers discover mice speak similarly to humans

The fact that grashoper mices vocalize like marmots is https://www.youtu...5OMfL4A4 long time - no new information has been given, except silly popsci journalism.


On the contrary, the video you pointed to was the precisely the generic whistle-like mechanism unless I am mistaken (no reference), but the membrane mechanism is both new and hailed as a mouse model to "for studies on vocal injuries and aging".

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