Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Message is in the Mice - Science

Probably there's some researcher who studies sorghum because he's insistent that he can demonstrate and prove when humans first started cultivating sorghum and this, therefore, demonstrates the beginning of the sedentary, agrarian lifestyle for humans.

That researcher may well be correct if the start of that lifestyle is truly measured by the first cultivation of crops but there's much better evidence of the time when humans stopped wandering about and the evidence comes from fauna rather than flora; it comes from the house mouse, specifically.

It seems as soon as we stopped meandering about, mice found us and those cute li'l four-leggers have been hanging with us ever since we settled anywhere.  (Science Daily:  Mouse in the house tells tale of human settlement)

It's important to get straight from the top that rats carried bubonic plague but mice didn't because they're cute.

Ed:  is that true?

No idea as maybe both of them carried the fleas with the plague but I can't feature Mickey Mouse bringing the Black Death.  That's just too awful to contemplate.

A mouse from a Maasai village in southern Kenya

Credit: Photo by Lior Weissbrod

Ed:  that looks like a house mouse from anywhere but the man has a nice shirt.

Tip:  don't piss him off.  They hunt lions by themselves as a test of manhood.  Definitely tell him you like his shirt even if you think it's an awful offense to all visual wavelengths.

"The research provides the first evidence that, as early as 15,000 years ago, humans were living in one place long enough to impact local animal communities -- resulting in the dominant presence of house mice," said Fiona Marshall, study co-author and a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. "It's clear that the permanent occupation of these settlements had far-reaching consequences for local ecologies, animal domestication and human societies."

- SD

See, I'm tellin' you ... the message is in the mice.

Marshall, a noted expert on animal domestication, considers the research exciting because it shows that settled hunter-gatherers rather than farmers were the first people to transform environmental relations with small mammals.  By providing stable access to human shelter and food, hunter-gatherers led house mice down the path to commensalism, an early phase of domestication in which a species learns how to benefit from human interaction.

The findings have broad implications for the processes that led to animal domestication.

- SD

The interested student is invited to pursue the source article further but I'm sure you wizards have the point already.

The science is interesting to the Rockhouse since humans didn't climb out of trees and then suddenly start cultivating the Ponderosa Ranch for "Bonanza" so what happened in-between.

Watson:  mice

Apparently so, mate.

Bonus question:  what did the Ponderosa Ranch actually produce in "Bonanza?"

The Rockhouse contention is it never produced anything but maybe there were nutjobs for "Bonanza" the way we get them for "Star Trek" today and those nutjobs would know.

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