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We still know little about animal communication, and science regularly brings its load of amazing news to the layman. Here is some of its latest news.

Mother Mice tell Daddy mice to care for the pups

Mice are non-monogamous in the wild. But when lab mice are housed together with their mates and  pups for a few days, otherwise uninterested fathers can be induced to provide parental care to the pups by ultrasound vocalizations and/or odour emitted by the mothers.

This is what H.W. Liu et al have described in their communication  “Displays of paternal mouse pup retrieval following communicative interaction with maternal mates.” recently published in the January 2013 issue of Nature Communication.
“Compared with the knowledge of maternal care, much less is known about the factors required for paternal parental care. Here we report that new sires of laboratory mice, though not spontaneously parental, can be induced to show maternal-like parental care (pup retrieval) using signals from dams separated from their pups. During this interaction, the maternal mates emit 38-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations to their male partners, which are equivalent to vocalizations that occur following pheromone stimulation. Without these signals or in the absence of maternal mates, the sires do not retrieve their pups within 5?min. These results show that, in mice, the maternal parent communicates to the paternal parent to encourage pup care. This new paradigm may be useful in the analysis of the parental brain during paternal care induced by interactive communication.” says the abstract.

Mus musculus

Mus musculus - (c) Laurence Didion

More information :

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33885/title/Mums-Tell-Dads-to-Care/
Nature Communications Journal : http://www.nature.com/

Illustration : Mus musculus
Sous-titre : "Wild mice are promiscuous".