Super Sexy, Singing Mice

It’s not often that mice sneak into the news, but they’ve gotten into it a lot lately.

The story that’s gotten the most attention is about how researchers created “super mice” by injecting nanoparticles into their eyes to give them “night vision.” Here’s a video and links to the stories about that research.

A shot of nanoparticles lets mice see in the dark (MIT Technology Review)
Night-vision ‘super-mice’ created using light-converting nanoparticles (Matthew Warren, Nature)
Mammalian Near-Infrared Image Vision through Injectable and Self-Powered Retinal Nanoantennae (Yuqian Ma, et al., Cell)

In case you’re wondering what that would look like, here’s a 360° video about how animals see the world that will give you a sense of it. The video concludes with segments on how rats see the world normally (2:32) and snakes see the world in the infrared (3:30).

So that’s “interesting.”

Another story was a bit more entertaining. It involved a critter called Alston’s singing mouse. Here’s a quick one minute introduction and some articles about the talented little guys.

Field and laboratory studies of vocal rodents (Bret Pasch, Northern Arizona University)
Interspecific Dominance Via Vocal Interactions Mediates Altitudinal Zonation in Neotropical Singing Mice (Bret Pasch, Benjamin M. Bolker and Steven M. Phelps, The American Natura)

In fact, these mice, and others, actually sing ultrasonic love songs.

Male mice song syntax depends on social contexts and influences female preferences (Jonathan Chabout1, Abhra Sarkar, David B. Dunson and Erich D. Jarvis, Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience)
Call of the Wild: The male mouse’s adorable ultrasonic mating songs (Jim Festante, Slate)

The melodious mouse that sings for sex (Tracy T. Burkhard, Rebecca R. Westwick and Steven M. Phelp,
Adiposity signals predict vocal effort in Alston’s singing mice (Tracy T. Burkhard, Rebecca R. Westwick and Steven M. Phelps, Proceedings of the Royal Society B)

Awww, such sweet little fellas! 🙂

Finally, the most interesting news was about how studying the singing mouse’s serenades could lead to treatments for humans with communication disorders that are a result of things like stroke or autism. Here’s a video and some articles about that research.

Singing mice could offer clues about how human brains manage conversation (Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica)
These mice sing their little hearts out—and that’s good for neuroscience (Jessica Boddy, Popular Science)
This singing mouse’s brain could reveal keys to snappy conversation (Kelly Servick, Science Magazine)
Motor cortical control of vocal interaction in neotropical singing mice (Daniel E. Okobi Jr., et al., Science Magazine)

So that’s neat stuff, but if you’re sad because you thought this was going to be about a mouse actually singing a song, with words, here’s a clip from Sing to help you feel better.

Find out more awesome things about mice