Female mice croon love songs, too

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Female mice croon love songs, too

Only 5 years ago, scientists discovered that the high-pitched squeaks male mice make while courting females are actually complex love songs beyond the range of human hearing. Now, it turns out that if a female mouse likes a crooning male, she sings back, the researchers reported in eLife. Researchers made the discovery after developing a special microphone array to more closely study the tunes of male mice, which range from 35 to 125 kilohertz (kz)—far higher than the maximum frequency heard by humans (20 kz). Males start singing when they pick up the scent of a female, but singers are hard to spot because they don’t make any obvious movements while serenading. But using the new microphone array, researchers could identify each individual songster—and that’s when they discovered that the females were singing, too (you can listen to a female singing in this recording, slowed for human hearing). In mouse courtship, the male chases and sings to a female he likes. If she’s smitten, she slows down and croons a tune of her own. The researchers now think that previous studies of singing mice may have incorrectly identified the vocalist—some of them were likely females. Researchers don’t yet know the purpose of the ladies’ music but suspect—like most love songs—they contain social information. Perhaps something along the lines of “It Had to Be You.”