How do mice communicate? By smell or facial expression?

Forget it. Some mice in Costa Rica communicate by singing, and these tiny sopranos have a lot to teach us about our own language gene. What’s the connection between squeaking and speaking?

Linguist Daniel Midgley gets mousey on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

Female mice like more difficult songs
http://earthsky.org/earth/singing-mice-woo-mates-with-tiny-serenades

Singing mice can tell us about the FOXP2 gene
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-mice-melodies-language-gene-uncover.html

A bit about sexual selection in long-tailed widowbirds
http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Sexual_Selection.html

For birds, more complicated songs = good
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/262/1364/163.short

Tecumseh Fitch’s guest post on Language Log, with information about Darwin’s views on language origins
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1136

More about the FOXP2 gene
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOXP2