Mice sing for sex

Mice sing for sex:
David Pescovitz:
Washington University researchers have discovered that male mice serenade females in ultrasonic songs. When lowered in frequency so humans can hear them, the vocalizations sound like birds whistling. The mice were spurred to sing with the scent of female urine. From Scientific American, where you can also hear a recording of a mouse song:

Although humans have long been listening to the serenades of birds and whales, among other animals, mouse songs have fallen on deaf ears for the past several decades, because they are out of the range of human hearing. When (scientist Timothy E.) Holy and co-author Zhongsheng Guo started taping the ultrasonic utterances of 45 male mice, they quickly found that the high-pitched sounds exhibited repetitive phrases, or motifs, that varied over time but that were repeated with some regularity. In short, they qualified as songs…

Although the lovestruck mouse’s repertoire cannot compete with that of an adult canary, the singing of mice does offer an opportunity to potentially study the genetics of song learning, especially if mice learn from a “tutor” as many birds do. And the wild cousin of the lab mouse just may possess an even wider range. “Domestication has changed many aspects of mouse behavior,” Holy remarks. “It would be intriguing to find out if [wild mouse] songs are more or less birdlike than the lab mouse songs.”


UPDATE: BB reader Radagast says, “The original journal article was published in PLOS Biology, a creative-commons licensed journal. Along with the full text of the article, the website also has a number of (also creative-commons licensed) audio files featuring the singing mice.” Link

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