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科学美国人60秒: 金屋藏“娇”

所属教程:科学美国人60秒科学系列 更新:03-01
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Female Vocalists Are in the (Mouse) House

金屋藏“娇”

How do you attract a mate? If you’re a male mouse, you take the Frank Sinatra approach—you sing. Scientists have known about crooning male mice for years. And past experiments showed that if you leave male mice alone with an unconscious female or even with just a trace of her urine, the males will sing. If you reverse roles, the females do not sing. So scientists believed that in courtship, males made all the noise. Until now.

你会怎样吸引异性?如果你是一只雄性老鼠,那么可以采用弗兰克·辛纳屈的方法——唱歌。多年以来,科学家们就知道雄性老鼠会唱歌。之前的研究表明,如果让一只雄性老鼠与一只无意识的雌性老鼠独处,或者仅是留下雌性老鼠的尿液的痕迹,那么这只雄性老鼠就会唱歌。但是如果角色互换,这只雌性老鼠却不会唱歌。所以,以前科学家们认为在恋爱阶段,所有的声音都是雄性老鼠制造的。

“The problem with the field is that we’ve never had a way to figure out who’s vocalizing.” Neuroscientist Josh Neunuebel at University of Delaware. He realized that researchers needed better listening tools.

“这个领域的问题是我们从没有弄清楚是谁在唱歌。”Josh Neunuebel是特拉华大学的一位神经科学家。他认为研究人员需要更好的听力工具。

So Neunuebel built a mouse sized recording studio. His team lined a small closet with nylon mesh and foam, which absorb sound rather than reflect it. And they installed ultrasonic microphones, because mice make sounds at a frequency that’s above the range of human hearing.

所以,Neunuebel 建立了一个老鼠大小的录音室。他的团队排了一个由尼龙网布和泡沫制成的小柜子。这个小柜子不会将声音反弹,而会将声音吸收。并且他们在里面安置了超声波麦克风,因为老鼠的声音频率要高于人类的听觉范围。

That’s some mouse singing slowed down so we can hear it.

我们将老鼠的歌声放缓,这样我们就能听到。

Neunuebel’s set-up made it possible for the researchers to determine that some songs were in fact coming from female mice. The gals that sang back to the males pursuing them also slowed down their pace, as if to say (Neunuebel’s voice): “Hey! I’m interested in you. Catch me if you can.” The study is in the journal eLife.

Neunuebel 的装置能让研究人员确定一些歌曲实际上是来自于雌性老鼠。对于雄性配偶的追求,雌性老鼠会用歌声回应,同时也会放慢自己的脚步,似乎在说:“嘿!我对你很感兴趣。你来追我啊!”该研究结果发表在《eLife》杂志上。

Neunuebel still wants to work out more details about how these interactions occur. But with improved technology, maybe the researchers can pick out pick-up lines. At least the ones that sound nice…to mice.

Neunuebel 仍想要研究更过关于这些交流发生的细节。但是随着技术进步,研究人员可以选择挑选搭讪语。至少,那些对于老鼠来说...好听的声音。

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