Japanese scientists said Tuesday they had produced a mouse that tweets like a bird in a genetically engineered "evolution" which they hope will shed light on the origins of human language.
A team of researchers at the University of Osaka created the animal in their "Evolved Mouse Project", in which they use genetically modified mice that are prone to miscopying DNA and thus to mutations.
"Mutations are the driving force of evolution. We have cross-bred the genetically modified mice for generations to see what would happen," lead researcher Arikuni Uchimura told AFP.
"We checked the newly born mice one by one… One day we found a mouse that was singing like a bird," he said, noting that the "singing mouse" was born by chance but that the trait will be passed on to future generations.
"I was surprised because I had been expecting mice that are different in physical shape," he said by telephone, adding that in fact the project had also produced "a mouse with short limbs and a tail like a dachshund".
The laboratory, directed by professor Takeshi Yagi at the Osaka University’s Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences in western Japan, now has more than 100 "singing mice" for further research.
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