It’s furry like a mouse but sings like a bird. What is it? It’s a mutant mouse developed by the genetic engineers at the University of Osaka that is able to tweet and chip like a bird, instead of a mouse’s normal squeak.
Like dog breeders, who actively select for certain traits (like size, hair color, or disposition) the researchers from the Evolved Mouse Project crossbred their mutant mice to select for various traits. When they find one they like, like this singing mouse or the one that looks like a miniature Dachshund, they breed them until they have a sizable breeding stock of animals to establish a new breed.
The research group currently has over a hundred singing mice (it must get noisy in those labs) and they are continuing to study how they use their chirps, researcher Arikuni Uchimura told the AFP:
“Mice are better than birds to study because they are mammals and much closer to humans in their brain structures and other biological aspects,” Uchimura said. “We are watching how a mouse that emits new sounds would affect ordinary mice in the same group… in other words if it has social connotations.”
On Wednesday, Iran launched a rocket into space–with a special and somewhat wriggly payload.
One mouse, two turtles and some worms were packed into the “experimental capsule” in the “Kovoshgar 3″ (Explorer 3) rocket and were given a one way ticket into the great yonder. The rat, nicknamed Helmz 1, and his buddies will now live out the rest of their lives on the rocket, their movements monitored by live video relayed from the space ark.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exulted over the success, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, saying:
“We are two more steps away from reaching a point of no return. To a point where we bring all the skies under the domain of Iranian scientists.”