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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Singing Mice

Air Date: Week of November 4, 2005

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(Courtesy of Public Library of Science)

Scientists have discovered that mice sing, but they don't know what they're singing about. No one can hear mice because they sing at a pitch that is above the human hearing range. Researchers found that individual mice have distinct songs and when the pitch was lowered, they sound much like birds chirping. This week we end with an interesting Earth Ear.

Transcript

[MOUSE CHIRPING: “Ultra Sonic Songs of Male Mice” from Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri (PLOS Biology)]

GELLERMAN: We leave you this week with a love song.

[MORE CHIRPING]

GELLERMAN: That’s the slowed-down call of a male mouse who’s just caught wind of a female.
Biologists have long known about mouse music, but recently researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis discovered that the tunes follow a pattern of repeating syllables, much like bird songs.

The researchers think males use these songs to attract mates during courtship. If they’re right, mice would join whales, bats, and humans as the only mammals known to serenade the objects of their desire.


(Courtesy of Public Library of Science)

[MOUSE NOISE]

GELLERMAN: Doesn't exactly turn you on? Well, using a sophisticated digital decoding device, we've been able to fine tune the frequency, and discovered what the male mice were actually singing:

[MOUSE SOUNDS CROSSFADE TO BETA BAND SONG: She’s the one for me…She’s the one for me….She’s the one for me…]

[MUSIC: The Beta Band “She’s The One For Me” from ‘The Three EPs’ (Astralwerks – 1999)]

GELLERMAN: We’ll let the intelligent design folks figure that one out.

 

Links

"Ultrasonic Songs of Male Mice" research article

 

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