Scientists from the University of Osaka have produced one hundred genetically engineered mice that can “tweet” like a bird. The genetic composition of the mice were tweaked as part of an experiment to see how genetic mutations drive evolution. PopSci reports:
According to the lead researcher at the lab, they were checking their newborn mice one at a time and one day came across a mouse that was singing just like a bird – a point that is significant beyond being both weird and interesting. Scientists already know that birds don’t sing haphazardly, but in a way that is governed by a set of linguistic rules that form strings of sounds. In other words it’s ordered noise, much like human speech.
The team now hopes their tweeting mice will lend insight on how human language evolved over history. Mice, after all, are much closer to humans in terms of biology and brain, and by seeing how they chirp in the company of other mice and when placed in certain situations, they might learn how human linguistics came to be as well as how they were shared among groups.