Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?

What would happen if you gave a lab mouse a human language gene? Researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology decided to find out. And the answer, it turns out, is that it’ll change the sound of the mouse’s squeak.This might also be the first step to communicating with mice:

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now genetically engineered a strain of mice whose FOXP2 gene has been swapped out for the human version. Svante Paabo, in whose laboratory the mouse was engineered, promised several years ago that when the project was completed, “We will speak to the mouse.” He did not promise that the mouse would say anything in reply, doubtless because a great many genes must have undergone evolutionary change to endow people with the faculty of language, and the new mouse was gaining only one of them.

. . .

Dr. Gary Marcus, who studies language acquisition at New York University, said the study showed lots of small effects from the human FOXP2, which fit with the view that FOXP2 plays a vital role in language, probably with many other genes that remain to be discovered. “People shouldn’t think of this as the one language gene but as part of a broader cascade of genes,” he said. “It would have been truly spectacular if they had wound up with a talking mouse.”

Yesterday was all about the green-glowing monkey but today I want me a talking lab mouse. Although Qui-Gon Jinn pointed out that the ability to speak doesn’t make one intelligent, if cartoons have taught me anything it’s that once you have talking lab mice, it’s entirely plausible they’ll do the same thing they do every night, try to take over the world! Narf!

2 Responses to Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?

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