OK, so anyone who read last week's Linko! knows that I'm a total mark for anything involving mices with swordz, including Mrs. Frisby & The Rats of NIMH, the early Redwall books and David Petersen's ridiculously nice-looking Mouse Guard (series 2, issue 6 in stores today, kids!). So, it should also come as zero surprise how excited I got when I read a story in today's New York Times titled Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak.
No bullshit, everyone. Listen to this:
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. So it is perhaps surprising that possession of the human version of FOXP2 does in fact change the sounds that mice use to communicate with other mice, as well as other aspects of brain function.
GAH! How awesome is that?!? I think that we should immediately start funneling money to researching teaching mice how to fence, wear Medieval cloaks and ride super intelligent rabbits. I'll get the ball rolling by contributing, like, ten bucks.
Who's with me?
NOTE: I should probably mention that you can preview Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #6 here.
ALSO NOTE: I'm about 45% sure that this field of research won't eventually lead to this.