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The Singing Mice: Rodents Sing Ultrasonic Music for Sex

Oct 13, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
According to studies, mice produce ultrasonic sounds to attract mates.
(Photo : Flckr/Creative Commons/Jason Bolonski)

A new study revealed that rodents sing high-pitched comparable to a supersonic jet engine, to attract mates and defend their territories.

"Mice make ultrasound in a way never found before in any animal," said the study's lead author Elena Mahrt, from Washington State University in a press release.

According to Medical Daily, these sounds the rodents make are inaudible to human ears. The male rodents produce the sounds once a scent of a female rodent is detected. In addition, the article said female rodents are able to differentiate the sound created by a sibling and a prospective mate.

Until now, there has been no explanation as to how the rodents produce such sound.
According to a study published in Current Biology , using high-speed camera, the researchers, were able to capture 100,000 frames per second. The frames showed the larynxes as they make the unique vocalizations.

"This mechanism is known only to produce sound in supersonic flow applications, such as vertical takeoff and landing with jet engines, or high-speed subsonic flows, such as jets for rapid cooling of electrical components and turbines," said Dr Anurag Agarwal, study co-author and head of the Aero-acoustics laboratories at Cambridge's Department of Engineering. "Mice seem to be doing something very complicated and clever to make ultrasound."

"It seems likely that many rodents use ultrasound to communicate, but very little is known about this - it is even possible that bats use this cool mechanism to echolocate," said the study's senior author Dr Coen Elemans from the University of Southern Denmark. "Even though mice have been studied so intensely, they still have some cool tricks up their sleeves."

As mentioned by Live Science, the rodents create a small air jet in their windpipes.

The study is particularly important in finding explanations how rodents are affected by gene mutations. In human's case, how someone with a speech disorder.

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