Mice Living Alongside Humans For 15000 Years

Posted: Mar 28 2017, 4:46am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 28 2017, 4:48am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Mice Living Alongside Humans for 15000 Years
This is a mouse from a Maasai village in southern Kenya. Photo Credit: Lior Weissbrod.
  • The House Mouse settled down in Human Company some 15,000 Years Ago

Apparently the house mouse we see scurrying in our abodes today settled down in human company some 15,000 years ago.

Before the agricultural revolution began in earnest, hunter gatherers settled in the Middle East. They decided to construct permanent dwellings and had an indelible impact on the ecology of the region.

Such effects which they had led the common house mouse to thrive in their homes. As early as 15,000 years ago, humans began settling down and thus stayed put in one place for a sufficient duration to allow the surrounding animals to start living there as well.

The dominance of house mice was one of the phenomena which took place way back then. Today these mice infest our homes to the extent that we have to keep pet cats or rat poison to control their populations.

The settlement of human beings in one fixed spot which took place so long ago had a large influence on local ecological niches and animal domestication.

Human society seemed to contribute to the fauna that surrounded it. The research on the matter is exciting since it shows that hunter gatherers formed the first cooperative links with animals.

By providing access to scraps of food and a place to exist in, human beings led house mice into commensalism. This was an early form of domestication in which species benefit from being in synch with human beings.

Animal domestication later on became more sophisticated. Human mobility played a key role in animal domestication and the alteration of the natural sphere.

When humans became sedentary, animals also sought quarters surrounding their dwellings. So a sort of symbiosis began to take shape that has partially lasted till our own modern times.

This partly explains the large changes in populations of house mice and wild mice. Such evidence has been unearthed in the Jordan Valley. Fossils of mice teeth that date back to 200,000 years ago show that the mice populations fluctuated in accordance with the outer environmental circumstances.

Human mobility apparently influenced the relationships between two species of mice: the house mouse and the short-tailed field mouse. These two species continue to thrive around the same settlement in the Middle East even today.

These two resemble another species of mice called spiny mice which are found among the Maasai in Kenya. The house mouse began its journey some 15,000 years ago.

In conjunction with human fortunes, house mice populations fluctuated and ultimately found a stability in relation to settlements made by mankind. Sedentarism and commensalism thus became two variables which had a mutual effect on each other.

This new research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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