The Loh Down On Science

Mousey Melodies

You’ve heard about the mouse that roared, how about the mouse who sang sweetly to his lady?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying yes, it’s true.

Although sadly--or maybe thankfully--the notes are too high for us to hear, male mice actually serenade females.  In fact, each male is born with a unique song--which he can’t change. Or can he--?

Enter Erich Jarvis from Duke University.  He staged mini singoffs in his lab, two squeaky suitors per female, and recorded their ultrasonic sweet nothings.  Each Rodent Romeo crooned his personal love song to win the little lady’s heart.  But--as days became weeks--the singers took on the same pitch! Shriller mice always became more baritone.  Think Justin Bieber becoming more Barry White.  Why?  Unknown.  All we can say is mice can change their tune!

So vermin vocalization is more complex than previously thought.  Could lead to new mouse models for studying speech disorders.
 
And perhaps a new American Idol-inspired version of An American Tale.  Leading us to ask, "Quien es mouse macho?"

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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