Songbirds may be the Sinatras of the animal world, but male mice can carry a tune too, say Washington University researchers who were surprised by what they heard.
Scientists have known for decades that male lab mice produce high-frequency sounds — undetectable by human ears — when they pick up the scent of a female mouse. This high-pitched babble is presumably for courtship, although scientists are not certain.
But it turns out those sounds are more complex and interesting than previously thought.
"It soon became ... apparent that these vocalizations were not random twitterings but songs," said researcher Timothy Holy. "There was a pattern to them. They sounded a lot like bird songs."
November 11, 2005
Male Mice Sing to Attract Females
The most popular song on the lab mouse Top 40 this week: Moustin Squeakylake's "Rock Your Body."