Talking Mice? What Has Man Unleashed?

240px-Reepicheep_thumbResearchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (in Leipzeig, Germany – the German city that hosted the first psychology laboratory)  have inserted a human gene, FOXP2,  into mice.  This gene is thought to be one of the components that give humans the ability to speak.  The gene insertion has altered the way mice communicate – their utlrasonic whistles are lower in pitch now.

What are the implications?  What will this unleash?  As the novelist and screen writer Mark Leyner explains in this NY Times Op Ed piece,  “we’re talking about a rat that’ll be able to sit down, look you in the eye and talk about the Sotomayor nomination or the Lakers-Magic series.”

This tearing down of the inter-animal communication wall will have more implications than the changing of Disney movie themes.  My aggressively vegetarian daughter may win all of her arguments and I will have to start eating those things she prescribes.  Heaven forbid…

iggy donnelly


Filed under Evolution, Psychology Ramblings...

8 responses to “Talking Mice? What Has Man Unleashed?

  1. I find this rather fascinating.
    By the way iggy, I’m finally finishing the book you gave me.

    About the converstaion about Sotomayor, I dunno.
    I rather imagine rats speaking more like this:

  2. Scientific exploration and research has milestones that look silly to us, but often answer a question or settle a matter long suspected that allows great breakthroughs for human conditions.

    Chad has a paper coming out in Nature. When he told his sister Tonya and I about this work he said the headline in the NYT would be “Fat cells divide.” We looked at this young nincompoop scientist like finally we had proof that he really is just a silly little boy. I remember her and I exchanging looks of agreement that we should prepare him for a bump in the road because he thought this was a wonderful breakthrough and we knew he was, at best, deluded and headed for a stumble and disappointment.

    Well, OK, maybe any one of us who have weight problems weren’t mystified, but it seems accepted science has always been that we are born with the number of fat cells we’ll always have and they plump up in some of us. His research definitively proves adipose tissue (FAT!) divides. So we two women ask the young punk, even if science is just discovering this fact we’ve long known, why is he excited, what could it mean?

    Well, he says, we have successfully made stem cells from skin cells, we know how to manipulate cells. There’s brown fat and there’s white fat, and brown fat actually may have something to do with keeping our lean figure. It’s been shown that obese individuals have significantly less brown fat than lean people. So now that we know there is a dividing we can begin the studies of manipulating the cells, maybe making brown fat cells, affecting how the white cells behave… He sees this as the beginning of treatments for obesity and says no matter the maladies a person may suffer obesity makes those more difficult and is a killer of its own.

    OK, you get the point. I can’t explain it like he did. But, what I do know is a milestone in science leads to great breakthroughs. Something we see as funny, silly, with absolutely no use may be the key to great treatments and cures.

    Off my soapbox. Iggy did this on purpose. He read where I thought he was handed his ___ and wanted to get me riled up.

    OK, we’re even, and I’ll settle down. 😉

  3. Sekan, I’ve deleted that same post three times this morning. I went to the link associated and found an error message, decided it was spam and acted accordingly. And, before I knew how the post actually showed up, I had deleted it. Sorry. I don’t know which one of us took the wrong action — probably me.

    I think we’ll get another chance because it comes back often!

  4. It isn’t listed as a trackback in the stats page. Does that mean anything?

  5. jammer5

    Oh, great: Now some frikin mouse is going to pop out of the wall and ask me if I got any spare cheese.

    “Hey, jammer, ya going to eat that taco?”

    Imagine that tequila worm . . . never mind.