Monday, 25 July 2011

Smug Mode: On

Last September, at the height of the Old Town Mouse Season, I posted some  observations that the mice in our flat seemed to have developed a distaste for poison laced grain, and suggesting that evolution of some description was going on.  ("Mice, Chickens, Eggs & Evolution")

Now I'll point out once more that what I do on this blog isn't actually science.  I have fun exploring science, yes, but very little I do is actually science.  The mouse thing sort of got close - there were repeated observations and the vaguest semblance of data gathering, but it was all very wooly.  "Anecdote is not a synonym for data" is a phrase you'll hear a lot.  "Correlation is not causation" is another.  The mouse thing wasn't science - an interesting angle to explore the basic idea of evolution from, but not science.

But now some real scientists with proper notebooks and letters after their name have taken the idea and turned it into proper science. They even got it published in a journal, Current Biology.

What they've discovered isn't precisely the same as my hypothesis.  I wrote:
For some reason or another they didn't go for the free food. Maybe it was the smell, maybe the colour, maybe they just didn't like the taste - maybe they're refined mice and expect more presentation than a small plastic tray.
Whereas Song, Endepols et al wrote:
Polymorphisms in the vitamin K 2,3-epoxide reductase subcomponent 1 (vkorc1) of house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) can cause resistance to anticoagulant rodenticide
Or, if you prefer, the mice have naturally bred a resistance to warfarin, the poison often used on them, rather than not even eating it in the first place.  It's actually a better tactic, because then they get free food as well.  I love it when the best laid plans come together.

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