Recent research is indicating that mice are capable of singing like a songbird given just the chance. While disputed by many scientists who have spent years disclaiming the possibility, according to Duke University's neurobiologist Erich Jarvis
, "we are claiming that mice have limited versions of the brain and behavior traits for vocal learning that are found in humans for learning speech and in birds for learning song."
Jarvis and his colleagues used gene expression markers
to monitor neurons in the motor cortex of the mice’s brains as they sang. The researchers proved that mice had trouble singing when these song-specific neurons were damaged.
In 2004, Kalcounis-Rueppell
used hand-held recorders capable of recording ultrasonic emissions at a field site California. Later, while going through the recordings, which were played back at a lowered speed and frequency to make them more audible to humans, an unusual and melodic sound was heard, as evidence in this four-note song of a deer mouse.
Played back this slowly, it almost sounds like the wooing riffs of a whale, with its plaintive rise and fall melody.
In this 2010 video posted by AFP, Japanese scientists say they actually produced a mouse that could tweet like a bird in a genetically engineered "evolution" which they hope will shed light on the origins of human language.
While there is definitely more research to be done, Jarvis asserts
that his "results show that mice have the five features scientists associate with vocal learning. In mice, they don't exist at the advanced levels found in humans and song-learning birds, but they also are not completely absent as commonly assumed," he said. His team is now researching mouse brains for genes specific to the brain circuits for vocal behavior. So far, these genes have only been found in songbirds and humans but, based on these results, could be in mice too.
And if this research proves anything, it shows we still have a lot to learn about the talents of not only mice, but also all animal life that we cohabit with on this planet. While mice might not have the moves like Jagger, it's certainly interesting to entertain the idea that penguins, walruses, owls and others might be able to shake a tail feather or two to that Maroon 5 dance beat, as evidenced here. . .