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Genetically Engineered Mouse is Not Scared of Cats

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the good-for-the-cat-not-so-much-the-mouse dept.

Biotech 286

Gary writes "A team from the University of Tokyo has genetically engineered a mouse that does not fear cats. By tweaking genes to disable certain functions of the olfactory bulb (the area of the brain that receives information about smells directly from olfactory receptors in the nose) the researchers were able to create a 'fearless' mouse that does not try to flee when it smells cats, foxes and other predators. 'The research suggests that the mechanism by which mammals determine whether or not to fear another animal they smell -- and whether or not to flee -- is not a higher-order cerebral function. Instead, that decision is made based on a lower-order function that is hardwired into the neural circuitry of the olfactory bulb.'"

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Smell only? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337175)

So he's fearless if he smells a predator. What if the mouse sees a cat running full speed at him?

Re:Smell only? (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337217)

Something tells me these mice are an evolutionary dead end...

Re:Smell only? (2, Funny)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337469)

Now we can finally disproof Darwinism!

Re:Smell only? (5, Insightful)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337521)

Something tells me these mice are an evolutionary dead end...
I had the same response initially as well. However, the point of the research has nothing to do with mice or fear per se, rather, from TFA, the point is to:

better understand the structure of the brain's neural circuitry responsible for processing information about the outside world
. Turning off and on various inputs (like smell) is a good way to proceed. Nevertheless, as a general principle, I think most mice would agree that turning off the fear of cats would be a bad thing. And, hey, let's face it, the cats would be pretty disappointed too since giving chase is 90% of the fun for them.

Re:Smell only? (2, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337853)

These mice might be interesting to use for a study into feline behaviour.

Re:Smell only? (3, Funny)

Fishead (658061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337597)

How about try this on rabbits, then turn loose a whole bunch in Australia. A few years later you may have a boom in Dingo population, but if we then breed Dingo's that are scared of Kangaroos...

Re:Smell only? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337893)

Either that or they haven't been very Intelligently Designed.

Re:Smell only? Not with all animals. (1)

Herschel Cohen (568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337963)

I remember reading that elk (or perhaps deer) had to relearn to fear wolves when they were reintroduced into Western U.S. National parks. Wolves had been gone so long that throwing feces near them elicited no response, hence, they relearned the forgotten survival skill the hard way.

Re:Smell only? (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337223)

Easy, he just puts something slick like a banana peel on the floor and holds out a frying pan and waits for the cat to run face first into it.

Re:Smell only? (5, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337445)

Or maybe they modified more than just the sense of smell, by mistake. I'm not trying to be all gloom and doom, but there's no way they fully understand what modifications they made. We still only know the very basics about DNA... Until they can -for sure- know all the effects modifying a gene will have, they can't say that their research means anything.

I happen to believe that they are correct in that mice fears predators at an instinct level... But I disagree that it's smell alone.

Too true (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337689)

Too true... I wish I could give you a +1 this time.

If you read about genes and the proteins they encode, it's nuts. Mother Nature is the biggest hacker there is. The same gene, for example, a mutation in MC1R [wikipedia.org] responsible for red hair and not getting a tan, _also_ influences:

- freckles

- pain sensitivity (and at that, differently by kind of pain. More sensitivity to, for example, burns, but less to pain caused by electricity.)

- response to pain killers and anesthetics (again, quite differently by type: it makes people less responsive to some anesthetics, but more responsive to others)

- temper (or at least so the stereotype goes)

and who knows what else.

Some DNA pieces are even known to be both code segment _and_ data segment.

It's nuts, really.

Re:Smell only? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337591)

More importantly, can they somehow produce a similar gene in humans to help Slashdot users overcome their fear of the smell vaginas?

Re:Smell only? (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337693)

The mouse would likely still run. The point here is that it's advantageous for a lifeform to remain relatively simple by operation. If the mouse has no sense of smell, and sees a cat running at him, it will probably trigger the "ohnoes, something unknown coming at me!" reflex in the mouse, which is pretty universal regardless of the approaching object is a cat or a boot. This removes the necessity for complex recognition and other such cognitive functions.

I for one.. (-1)

echocola (871854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337213)

I, for one, welcome our new mice overlords.

Re:I for one.. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337327)

> I, for one, welcome our new mice overlords.

Silence, Pinky, or I shall have to hurt you.

Re:I for one.. (0, Offtopic)

Cheshire_Smile (1114437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337631)

Oh come on. Seriously, we're all over this joke now.

As a daily Engadget reader, I come to Slashdot to get away from all the plainly idiotic comments on most tech oriented sites. If you want to post the same tired comments such as "but will it play Doom", "will it blend" and "I for one welcome our [insert anything here] overlords, please do it on Engadget or TechEblog.

Anyway enough of my bitching, proceed.

Re:I for one.. (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337805)

You're new here eh?

Re:I for one.. (2, Funny)

Cheshire_Smile (1114437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337969)

I've been reading Slashdot daily for nearly a year. I don't usually post, I'm more interested in what the experts have to say. I'm getting a little fed up with the stupidly over used comments though. There are places (lots of places) online where you can go to say these things and get a laugh. Leave Slashdot as an intellectual retreat :)

Re:I for one.. (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337883)

Okay, I see by your UID that you are in fact new here, but you really should know that /. memes are /. memes; you will never convince anyone on /. to stop posting them here.

Oh really? (0)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337233)

Bet the test mouse didn't last too long.

I see a new line of cat toys showing up at the pet shop this Holiday Season.

Re:Oh really? (1)

Von Helmet (727753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337395)

Unless the cat's "eat mouse reflex" doesn't go off because the mouse isn't running about scared...

Re:Oh really? (5, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337617)

My cat doesn't have an eat mouse reflex - it's evolved into a "bat the mouse around for two hours until it dies of a heart attack, and then leave it somewhere that Food Bringing Slave can step on it!" reflex ...

Re:Oh really? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337573)

Nah, most cats I know look confused and lose interest when the mouse stops trying to run away. They're really quite sadistic.

Re:Oh really? (4, Funny)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337811)

A feral cat wouldn't have those issues, it would have slaughtered that mouse the second it didn't run fast enough. Yours is just a pussy.

Fearless Mice.. (3, Insightful)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337239)

I can't find myself fearing fearless mice. Why? Because there was most likely a very good reason for the mice that they are afraid of cats and large things that can eat them... I just can't seem to worry about these things getting loose and breeding in the wild.

It's sort of like the fear of spiders, snakes, bears, and large cats. There are very valid reasons for humans to be naturally afraid of things that can kill/harm and maybe eat us.

Re:Fearless Mice.. (5, Funny)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337515)

Well I bet you'll change your mind once you stand face to face with the new race of fearless, regenerating mice that can run six kilometres without rest and glow in the dark. But by then it will be far too late to do anything but welcome our new cheese-eating overlords.
Their only weakness is a slightly increased risk of cancer when exposed to various substances. Oh, if only we had invested equal resources in building better cats!

Of men and mice... (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337567)

I can't find myself fearing fearless mice. Why? Because there was most likely a very good reason for the mice that they are afraid of cats and large things that can eat them... I just can't seem to worry about these things getting loose and breeding in the wild.
It's sort of like the fear of spiders, snakes, bears, and large cats. There are very valid reasons for humans to be naturally afraid of things that can kill/harm and maybe eat us.
It's not the mice I'm afraid of, it's the supersoldier program to which this could be applied [clinicaltrials.gov] .

Of course, I'm not entirely sure they took out the mice's fear as much as their ability to detect the smell... maybe that's in TFA, I'll go see.

Fear of the fearless (1, Insightful)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337601)

I can't find myself fearing fearless mice. Why? Because there was most likely a very good reason for the mice that they are afraid of cats and large things that can eat them...

Note that experiments like this are inherently more imprecise than the way they are summarized. The whole point is not "fears cats" or "doesn't fear cats", it's "has been observed trying things it wasn't previously doing that are assumed to be out of fear of cats" and "not having been observed ...etc." I recommend not reading the words describing research outcomes too literally. When you see a study that says "blah causes cancer in married people over 18", give some serious thought to whether it might not mean "blah may cause cancer generally, but our tests only covered this group and we're being conservative about our claims."

One way this matters is kind of like the reason that evolution proceeds primarily through behavioral pathways of things being attempted. Fear of a certain smell might keep mice from cats, but maybe cats are not their principal threat any more. Maybe this is a behavior from when there were lots of cats, and maybe most homeowners don't have freely breeding cats any more. If that's so, then this could allow a lot mice to come into areas they haven't been in before, as racoons have moved into cities.

A second and less obvious reason it may matter is that a lot of what holds animals at bay in the openness of human cities may be more a holdover of a natural fear that other animals, to include humans, would be "impolite". But humans are, comparatively, ruthlessly polite. Maybe most animals may steer clear out of us for primitive fear reasons, not for practical reasons. As they learn we are bad at wiping them out, and unwilling to use all available means, that could change. We don't need to hasten things by genetically improving their willingness to try harder.

Experimenting with the boldness aspects of behaviors may have unintended consequences. I don't think it's bad to understand this kind of thing, since it may also help to fix such problems as they come up (e.g., killer bees, and finding ways to get them to be less aggressive). But that doesn't mean one shouldn't be careful about the genes and make sure they don't leave the lab, perhaps even using strong rules similar to what we use for dangerous viruses.

Perhaps mice fear humans due to this same gene, and that's why they run away rather than running toward them and biting when they see them. Maybe this also affects that. In sufficient numbers, and there are no known ethics genes inhibiting the creation of such numbers in mice, a bunch of fearless mice could be very dangerous. In general, fearlessness is to be feared in sufficient numbers. Just look at war movies where large numbers of dedicated lives are thrown away to make a small push forward. If mice showed similar determination to take over a household, that would be formidable. There are some good horror movies on this, but we could easily turn such movies to reality through genetics.

And moreso if the recent "mighty mouse" gene [slashdot.org] got mixed in, too.

Re:Fearless Mice.. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337627)

I can't find myself fearing fearless mice. Why? Because there was most likely a very good reason for the mice that they are afraid of cats and large things that can eat them... I just can't seem to worry about these things getting loose and breeding in the wild.
Well, first off, how do you know they won't enable a large population of predators (say, wolves, or owls) to thrive until the fearless mice all get eaten; then you have a surplus of hungry owls and a scarcity of prey... sure hope you don't have mouse-colored hair and venture outside at night, Mr. "I ain't afraid of no mice".

Second, I think we can all recall the abundance of articles about mice engineered to be super-strong, super-endurant, super-visioned, and super-aggressive. Honestly, the only reason I've been unafraid until now is that I know^H^H^HH^knew that mice were scared of cats, so I could just put my furry catsuit on and I'd never get attacked.

Now we learn that they can engineer fearless mice -- think of the recombinant possibilities!1! Fearless AND superstrong?

I believe elephants foresaw the coming of the fearless destroyer mice legions (or simply remember the last time it happened, since they never forget) -- we should take a cue from them and be afraid of mice. Be very afraid.

Re:Fearless Mice.. (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337809)

I fear fearless mice. I somehow got cats without the "kill small animals instinct" so I know all the fearless mice are going to move to my house.

Seems flawed... (2, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337247)

Whatever function is triggered is being disabled by the removal of the SMELL capacity, not the FLEE capacity. That part of the mouse's brain that is responsible for interpreting the smell of a predator is probably still working fine, but is just not being stimulated because they have disabled the SMELL part.

Re:Seems flawed... (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337331)

True, but the system was still disabled and I think that was the point of the experiment. I think what they were also trying to figure out is whether or not the mouse still fled when that particular sensor was broken, proving it wasn't sight/sound/touch/(taste?) triggered.

Re:Seems flawed... (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337493)

Well, I think that it's interconnected; there are certain smell receptors in a mouse that are hardwired to the "oh shit, run" response. They have disabled that in these mice, either by breaking the connection or disabling/removing the smell receptors more directly. The result is that the behavior is not present anymore.

That's really the interesting thing, here: they have found a genetic variation that produces a very definite, high-level behavioral change. That's pretty cool.

Although it's clear that many animals have a lot of behaviors that are 'instinctive' and must be carried genetically (which you can test by bringing an animal up in an environment that's devoid of other animals and monitoring it's behavior), it's not terribly clear exactly how they work and are transmitted. This might be one small step towards understanding a part of that.

Re:Seems flawed... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337665)

My question is, can the mice still smell the cats? If the mice can still smell the cat, but the link from "cat smell" to "fear" is gone, yet the link from "cat appearance" to "fear" still persists, then I agree that is interesting.

What would also be interesting is if the genetically modified mice can learn to fear the smell of cats by repeatedly smelling them just before seeing them, or something.

Re:Seems flawed... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337755)

What would also be interesting is if the genetically modified mice can learn to fear the smell of cats by repeatedly smelling them just before seeing them, or something.

Or, conversely, if it's possible to train mice not to get fear when they smell a cat.

Or, if it's possible to retrain the emotions humans get from scents that they probably don't recognize are there.

Big Deal: I am NOT afraid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337265)


nobody [whitehouse.org] . Of course, the alcohol has helped me tremendously.

Sincerely,
W

Not New (3, Funny)

moehoward (668736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337269)


Not news. They already engineering ones that do not fear my wife. It was only a matter of time.

Another team took the opposite approach and genetically engineered many people I know to have an irrational fear of global warming.

I'm glad their tackling this fear things from both ends.

Finally, a breakthrough for slashdot users... (5, Funny)

scoser (780371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337273)

Once we have this treatment available for humans, Slashdotters will no longer be afraid of women!

catty women (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337479)

Once we have this treatment available for humans, Slashdotters will no longer be afraid of women!


Unless, of course, they happen to come across some woman who's even more catty than a cat ;)

Re:Finally, a breakthrough for slashdot users... (1)

BrotherBeal (1100283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337759)

At least ones with BO. Maybe we better leave those genes in.

Re:Finally, a breakthrough for slashdot users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337807)

It won't make any difference.

As if a slashdotter could get within smelling distance of a woman in the first place...

Congratulations University of Tokyo researchers!!! (0, Troll)

kpainter (901021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337277)

You have just created a retarded mouse!! I can do the same thing with a tiny hammer.

In other news... (3, Funny)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337279)

In other news, Doraemon is still scared of mice.

I hope the scientists don't try for a patent.. (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337289)

There's ample prior art [wikipedia.org] .

Not surprising. (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337299)

The company that made mouse an integral part of personal computer also makes all the OSes named like panther, tiger and leopard. So I am not surprised the mouse does not fear the cat. Aren't mice intelligently designed by Steve Jobs?

Re:Not surprising. (2, Funny)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337743)

Aren't mice intelligently designed by Steve Jobs?


No, it's the other way around ;-0

And his name is Jerry. (4, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337307)

This mouse is often seen wielding a large mallet.

Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337309)

But was the cat freaked out by the fact that the mouse was fearless?

Re:Now (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337443)

No, what really freaked the cat out was when the mouse tried to mate with it...

Re:Now (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337785)

No, what really freaked the cat out was when the mouse tried to mate with it...
--
Seven puppies were harmed during the making of this post.
I think you mean 7 puppies, one mouse, 1 cat, and every other animal in the lab.

Re:Now (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337495)

The major question is....do fearless mice taste better than the ordinary mouse?

And speaking of prior art [bcdb.com] ......

it is ridiculous to extrapolate (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337329)

these results to man. for unlike the lower animals, we are motivated by higher mental orders of conscience and reason. of course, some wankers will come along and say that we are also help captive to these lower impulses. but i say-

mmm... who's cooking brownies?

Re:it is ridiculous to extrapolate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337789)

The fact that we come up with something as fantastic as the internet and then mainly use it to watch porn says enough.

Can we bio-engineer girls? (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337355)

/. needs ones who can smell a geek and not run scared :-)

Re:Can we bio-engineer girls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337483)

/. needs ones who can't smell.

Re:Can we bio-engineer girls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337505)

Actually, they need to engineer one that *can't* smell a geek.

Re:Can we bio-engineer girls? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337717)

Taking a shower converts nearby girls to that type.

(For it to work though, the shower must be performed *out* of their view.)

Re:Can we bio-engineer girls? (1)

calzplace (253241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337867)

Finally, I can modify my girlfriend's genes so she's not scared of my farts.

Rodent diseases? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337361)

Wasn't there a disease that made a cat not only unafraid of cats, but attracted to their smell? I can't remember the name, but it infects the cat too, which incubates and spawns more of the disease in the stool etc, which then infects more rodents. It's also supposed to be one of the reasons that pregnant women should stay away from cats (or at least litter boxes) as it may have links to various child developmental issues.

Re:Rodent diseases? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337507)

Wasn't there a disease that made a cat not only unafraid of cats, but attracted to their smell? I can't remember the name, but it infects the cat too, which incubates and spawns more of the disease in the stool etc, which then infects more rodents. It's also supposed to be one of the reasons that pregnant women should stay away from cats (or at least litter boxes) as it may have links to various child developmental issues.


Toxoplasmosis [cdc.gov]

Re:Rodent diseases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337947)

speaking of brownies... aren't cats supposed to be attracted to cats? Is this disease you speak of 'evolution'?

Re:Rodent diseases? (4, Informative)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337949)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis [wikipedia.org]

"It has been found that the parasite has the ability to change the behavior of its host: infected rats and mice are less fearful of cats"

An example for non-hunters who may not know (5, Informative)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337375)

The sense of smell is a big deal in the way predator and prey interact. For example, without a doubt the best way to get rid of the squirrels in your attic is to squirt just a small amount of fox urine fox urine [cabelas.com] up there. Just a few drops around your attic ladder opening will have those little farts on the run and gone within a day. Then plug up whatever holes originally allowed them to get up there and the problem is solved.

One caution: I've found that it only works once. If you don't seal up those holes, the squirrels come back and the second application doesn't work. Maybe you just need fresh urine. But no matter the reason, don't put off the soffet repairs (or whatever work you need to do) after scaring them away.

Re:An example for non-hunters who may not know (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337481)

But what do you do about your stinky attic? Good place for a Stick-Up, eh?

Re:An example for non-hunters who may not know (2, Informative)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337639)

You may have meant it as a joke, but the question is a good one. If you're using so much urine that you can smell it in the house, you're using way too much. We're talking, literally, just a few drops. This stuff is effective when applied a tad more liberally to the shoes of hunters who are pursuing their hobby *outdoors*. In the enclosed space of an attic, the amount you need is so small, a human shouldn't be able to smell it from more than three feet away.

That being said, here's another caution. Don't open the bottle and stick it under your nose to see what it smells like. Curiosity in unavoidable, but hold the thing away from you and fan the fumes toward you to satisfy that curiosity. A full-blast snort of this stuff will make you retch.

Re:An example for non-hunters who may not know (2, Funny)

dkh2 (29130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337539)

For the second application you need urine from a Targ [wikipedia.org] .

Re:An example for non-hunters who may not know (2, Funny)

Luke Dawson (956412) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337953)

the best way to get rid of the squirrels in your attic is to squirt just a small amount of fox urine fox urine up there.
Thanks! Now we all know what to get our in-laws for Christmas!

fear and mice (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337377)

I fear mice with only one button...

So it detects by smell... (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337385)

but what if one of these mice doesn't have a nose, how does it smell?

Re:So it detects by smell... (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337491)

Probably worse than the others? Oh, was that rhetorical? :)

Re:So it detects by smell... (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337555)

how does it smell?

Terrible.

isn't this just reversing evolution? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337419)

Consider a time long ago. Mice (and other small furry creatures)smelt every other animal around them. Some mice had "flee" triggers for pretty much anything - they ran away all the time and died out as they never stayed still long enough to eat/breed. Others had little or no "flee" triggers - they died out as they got eaten. The rest survived as they fled from predators and ignored non-threatening animals.

All these guys have done is wind back the clock and created one of the evolutionary branches that dies out long ago - for very good reasons.

Apart from being a curiosity, does this have any other use - except maybe to create animals that avoid the smell of tyres or tarmac and so don't become roadkill?

Re:isn't this just reversing evolution? (1)

syd02 (595787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337817)

One of the nice things about evolution is that it's not intelligent design, so it isn't heretical to suggest that some natural impulses aren't very useful. Obviously mouse vs. cat conflict will select for mice which have a tendency to run away, so this is a poor example, but there may be many other examples (particularly in humans, who have a record of wtfpwning nature) where "reversing evolution" could be beneficial. If it's beneficial, we might even consider it a further evolution of our species.

won't someone please think of the kitties (1)

resfilter (960880) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337423)

in my experience with average house cats (i.e. cats that do not hunt for food, only for fun), if it won't run or struggle, it isn't very interesting prey

if i put one of these genetically engineered fearless mouse in a room with my cat, it would likely befriend it

although it seems like taking a natural defensive instinct away would be a negative thing, it might end up making mice that are suitable for co-habitation with cats

been there, done that. (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337497)

Re:been there, done that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337829)

Well aren't you fucking special. Please enlighten us as to why you're on this site if you know it all already.
 

Man is he in for a surprise or what? (-1, Redundant)

MagicBox (576175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337499)

That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. Creating a Mouse that is not scared of the Cat? Do you understand the implications of evolution that such "achievement" can have on both species? First of all Cats will not need to chase the mice around anymore creating a new species of over weight, couch potato Cats, with health problems and eventual premature death Second, the Mice not being affraid of the cats will face sudden, violent deaths and have no hope of surviving. The next logical step would not be to make Mice that are more powerful than cats or at similar level, so at least they can put up a fight...and die with some dignity

Re:Man is he in for a surprise or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337813)

Sounds like a book [wikipedia.org] that I know.

I remember a similar story... (1)

angrytuna (599871) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337513)

I heard in biology class awhile back. It was about a parasite that had an incredibly convoluted life cycle, parts of which involved affecting the behavior of other living species so they would suicide, allowing the parasite to pass onto its ultimate host. I think this article on the Toxoplasma parasite [nytimes.com] might be relevant. I wonder if that's how they isolated the behavior?

From the article:

For decades, most scientists believed that people with healthy immune systems had no effects from Toxoplasma. But some studies in recent years have hinted that the parasite can exert surprising effects on behavior, at least in animals.

In 2000, British scientists demonstrated that rats infected with Toxoplasma lost their fear of cats. They proposed that this strategy increased the parasite's chances of getting into its final host.

Scientists at Stanford University recently followed up on these experiments, studying rats and mice. "They actually show a mild attraction to the cat odor," said Ajai Vyas, a Stanford neurobiologist. "It's not just the loss of an old behavior. A new behavior is being induced."

.

Can't sleep, clowns will eat me (1)

QuantumFlux (228693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337523)

Wow, I didn't realize that clowns had a distinct smell!

From www.kokonino-herrild.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337527)

Modified mouse escapes, seen heading towards Kaibito threatening to baste 'kat' with 'brick'. News at 11.

Featured mice (1)

Pipaman (1172207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337543)

My cat will be glad to test this new 'featured' mice.

Not very encompasing (1)

EvilGoodGuy (811015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337561)

I realize mice are the first to be tested on subjects that involve danger for the animal. But I also realize that the functions of a mouse are very different from that of many mammals. All they've proved here is that it works for mice, not mamamls.

Re:Not very encompasing (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337737)

Your brain is basically a mouse brain with an almost out of control cortical growth wrapped around it. The more primitive parts of the brain are quite similar between all vertebrates, and the olfactory system is one of the oldest bits. Until someone tries this in other animals, there's more reason to think these mechanisms might be common to most mammals than there is to think otherwise.

Logical... (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337649)

I'll be honest, I'm not an expert in mouse physiology, but it doesn't seem like a stretch to suggest that evolution has provided certain animals with reactions to certain smells that might trigger an adrenaline rush. It wouldn't have to be a terribly complex biochemical pathway to get from smell to adrenaline, I would image. After all, for humans, the only stimulus needed to cause an adrenaline rush is pain. I would imagine this too happens at a pretty low-level, biologically. And yet we also learn behavior that triggers adrenaline rushes. I would imagine a heightened sense of smell would make smell-related triggers would be advantageous in evolution.

What about bogeymen? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337659)

Is fear of "bogeymen" or out-groups based on something innate?

Sure, the Hitler-era Germans were taught to fear the Jews and for a long time American white women were taught to fear muscular black men, recent history has taught parents to fear men who get too friendly with their children, and now we are all taught to fear people who look and act like they might be terrorists or even look Middle-Eastern.

Is this propensity to fear based on something woven into our DNA?

Re:What about bogeymen? (1)

MagicBox (576175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337845)

Sure, the Hitler-era Germans were taught to fear the Jews and for a long time American white women were taught to fear muscular black men

I have never heard of what you mention above. It smells like bull shit to me.

With that said.... Mice that are not affraid of cats...what the fuck is that? No wonder the re-search to fiding a cure for deadly "uncureable" diseases is so fucking slow, those geeks are too busy using the re-search money to create mice that are not affraid of cats. http://www.newsweek.com/id/68221 [newsweek.com]

Fear of social censure (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337803)

Genetically engineer humans not to be afraid of the opinions of others, and then we'll have fun watching flash mobs nail them to crosses and make them prophets.

This is a really bad idea. (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337821)

Fear is good. Fear keeps us safe and alive. Fear is our response to danger.

Without fear, we do stupid things. Without fear, there is no courage.

Without fear, the species will go extinct.

Brilliant! (1)

sacob (1165495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337861)

Now they just need to gouge out the eyes of the mice, and then they will fear nothing!!

vomeronasal organ? (1)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337903)

Does this involve the VMO (vomeronasal organ), which allows mice to detect pheromones, or is it a different olfactory structure?

If so, it not only stops mice from fearing cats, but also makes them GLBT [suite101.com]

It that really the conclusion? (4, Insightful)

Elucid (112657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337927)

Maybe someone pointed this out already, or perhaps I am just a bozo...

If a mouse's sensorium is determined a great deal by its sense of smell... and you disable that sense of smell... its "higher-order cerebral functions" would be impaired because they would not be getting the input they require to make decisions. How can you conclude that fear in mammals is related to the oflactory sense? Other mammals may use other senses to a larger degree.

To me, this seems like the old joke about the bad scientist who concluded that a frog with all its legs removed becomes deaf because it doen't jump when he yells at it.

And what? (1)

pease1 (134187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337939)

I once knew a Golden Retriever who had hay fever. Put him in the field and let him see a duck get shot. He'd run after the duck, and as he got closer, as all duck dogs tend to do, would start use his nose more then his eyes. After a couple of minutes, he'd come up sneezing and sneezing and never would find that duck.

Yep. Turn off part of the sense of smell, and critters might lose an instinct or two.

Toxoplasma gondii (1)

hhth (1155731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337945)

Mr. Gondii already figured this one out "T. gondii infections have the ability to change the behavior of rats and mice, making them drawn to rather than fearful of the scent of cats. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to sexually reproduce if its host is eaten by a cat" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasma_gondii [wikipedia.org] hhth

Dick Cheney.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337981)

I had a hilarious comment about Dick Cheney, but I forgot--oh shit! What's that? A CAT! RUN!

can they be detected by stupidfilter? (1)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337993)



One project aims at fighting stupidity; another successfully engineers it.

I have an idea! (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337999)

If you're in the pest control industry, you could do the following:

1. Discover a way to make mice not fear cats
2. Create a delivery system to get this into mice (much in the same way that you lay out poison for mice)
3. Encourage people to get both the delivery system and cats to solve their mouse problem.
4. ?????
5. Profit!

But wait, there's more! (1)

pig-power (1069288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338011)

Next experiment: To take the brain function out of the scientists that tells
them to get out of the way of an 18-wheeler rolling at them.
Oh, fun times!
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