Of Mice and Melodies
Singing mice (Scotinomys teguina) are not your average lab rats. Their fur is tawny brown instead of the common white albino strain; they hail from the tropical cloud forests in the mountains of Costa Rica; and, as their name hints, they use song to communicate.
University of Texas at Austin researcher Steven Phelps is examining these unconventional rodents to gain insights into the genes that contribute to the unique singing behavior—information that could help scientists understand and identify genes that affect language in humans. Within the last year Phelps research on the behavior of the mouse has appeared in the journals Hormones and Behavior and Animal Behavior. But one of his newest research projects is looking deeper: examining the genetic components that influence song expression.