On the forest floor high up in the mountains of Central America, scientists have discovered singing mice. Yeah, mice that sing like they’re on Central America’s Got Talent. Apparently they were performing at a club called Cheesy’s on Brie when a record producer from Hollywood walked in and …
No, a scientist named Alston tracing some unusual high-pitched sounds discovered these rare vocalizing rodents which possess the same amazing brain commands as humans. Their brains send out musical signals and the muscles in their mouths and throats comply. Even monkeys which are far closer to humans in the evolution chain cannot control their vocalization as expertly as these singing mice.
By comparison, normal house mice which scientists frequently use in lab experiments merely produce ultrasonic squeaks. Put another way, you singing in the shower sounds like a house mouse. An Alston singing mouse sounds like Pavarotti singing in the shower. In either case, the response from the room next door is always “shut the hell up!”
“They’re kind of divas,” says Dr. Michael Long, a neuroscientist at N.Y. U. Medical School. So impressed is Dr. Long with the singing mice he plans to capture them and then study their brains in a lab. Not much of a music lover, Dr. Long’s attitude seems to be that if you can’t dance to their tunes then you might as well decapitate the little buggers and figure out what makes them tick.
A study of these singing mice of Central America was recently published in Science magazine. The article came to the first ever conclusion that mammals other than primates can also use the brain cortex to control their sounds. Scientists believe further studies could lead to the discovery of how man first mastered language. Sadly, recent tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump may have set this plan back by several thousands of years.
No doubt the first thing Dr. Long will do is snip the little guys’ bean bags off to see if he can hit a high C note. As Alston’s mice like to sing: “Who needs puddy tats when we have neuroscientists with knives.”
Amazingly, these mice play ping-pong with sound using 100 audible notes and respond to each other instantaneously and without interrupting the other singing.
Carefully the mice take turns delivering their song lines instead of singing over each other and stepping on each other’s lines like say, The Beegees, Alston’s singing mice sound like they’re having a conversation something along the lines of Leonard Cohen doing a duet with Van Morrison. Scary, but very respectful.
In one experiment researchers cooled down certain patches of a mouse’s brain, slowing the neurons and causing the rodent to sing extended songs and even adding extra notes. Scientists were astonished until somebody remembered that’s exactly how Brian Wilson wrote “Da Doo Ron Ron” while spending three years in bed in the early 70s.
They also injected nerve-blocking drugs into the same brain which caused the drugged male to fail to sing back to his partner and taking long periods of time to start up his own song. To my mind this explains everything you needed to know about Keith Richards. (You realize he once fell out of a coconut tree and knocked himself silly! It happened.)
There is inherent danger in all this business about singing mice because quite often a male will squeak out a tune or two in order to court a female mouse. I believe humans have already seen that train wreck played out. It began with the Captain on the piano and ended up with Toni Tennille in his lap. Let’s never forget what that gave the modern world – “Muskrat Love.” And worse, a TV show that was based on the music!
I’m hoping the scientists studying these mice in the cloud forests of Central America have adequate security in place. All it would take is a couple of cats annoyed by the late night singing and suddenly all this becomes a bloodbath of an opera in which the lead mouse sings for an hour after being stabbed.
Researchers are taking this discovery of singing mice very seriously hoping it will explain how autism causes people to encounter trouble with normal conversations. Dr. Long is now planning on genetically engineering the brains of Alston’s singing mice with mutations linked to autism.
This is possibly a good thing for humans but not so good for Rap the Rodent, a singing mouse from Panama who has three million followers on his twitter account.
And not to stick a pin in Dr. Long’s bubble but when his singing mice can belt out lyrics like: “Christmas, Christmas time is near. Time for toys and time for cheer. We’ve been good but we can’t last. Hurry Christmas, hurry fast.”
That’s right. Somebody needs to break the bad news to the singing mice of Central America – we’ve been listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks for over 60 years. Oh, and in the movie of the same name, they also drive cars!
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