How mice went global
Scientists who have been working on establishing complex historical patterns of human migration have found a new ally in their quest - the noble house mouse.
Reporter: David Bamford
Did you know that very specific parts of north-west Britain are colonised by Viking mice - mice that originate from Norway? Or that there are mice families in New Zealand whose rodent ancestors come from India?
A group of scientists have published their findings after a global study of mouse genetics that they say will tell us more about human migration, and where early colonists - going back to the Iron Age - settled many centuries ago. Because, as it turns out, the colonists accidentally took their home-grown mice with them - and mice, like humans, have DNA and genetic patterns that can be identified and classified.
One of the researchers on the project, Jeremy Searle, a professor of biology at York University in northern England, explains:
JEREMY SEARLE Mice have been moved all throughout the world by people and clearly when you had the voyages of the discoveries, and you had settlements all round the world starting off from western Europe, they took mice with them so mice are now absolutely cosmopolitan around the world.
Identifying the chromosomes originating from these seafaring mice should provide useful data to back up studies such as the Genographic Project, in which the DNA of hundreds of thousands of people around the world is being catalogued with the aim of telling us where our individual ancestors came from and settled.
David Bamford, BBC
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