Singing Mouse: A New Phenomenon? Not According to 1936 TIME Article

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Japanese scientists have created a singing, tweeting mouse.

See video of the mouse at AFP.

Scientists recently announced that they had genetically modified a mouse to tweet like a bird. TIME Magazine’s strange article on a naturally occurring chirping mouse 74 years ago was ahead of the curve.

Japanese researchers say they have been cross-breeding mice for generations, apparently just to see what would happen. And one day they startlingly ran across a mouse that was “singing like a bird.”

(See the top 10 animal stories of 2010.)

While it stunned the researchers, it is not the first time humans have discovered a singing mouse. In fact, TIME wrote a rather bizarre article on Dec. 28, 1936 about a chirping mouse that people originally thought was a canary. Named Mickey (until they discovered it was a girl), the Chicago Zoological Park bought the mouse for $150. The mouse later went on to sing on a national broadcast. Seriously. Below is an excerpt:

To the mouse, renamed Minnie after examination by Zooman (Robert Bean), came a supreme test one evening last week. Up to a microphone in NBC’s Chicago studios stepped the master of ceremonies of the NBC Jamboree to announce ‘the phenomenon of the century … the only mouse in the world who actually sings.’ Into the studio marched the Industrial School’s tall, gaunt Manager Oscar Alva Allred, carrying Minnie in a wire-fronted box. Holding the cage before the microphone, Manager Allred poked a small piece of insulated wire through the hole in the box top, tenderly prodded Minnie’s belly. As the visible audience of 400 listened raptly, out over a national network went faint, wavering chirps and trills. It sounded as much like a cricket as like a canary, but that Minnie really sang there was no doubt.

To read the full Dec. 28, 1936 TIME story, go here.