Friday, October 13, 2006

The Achenblog is all agog about the new species of mouse with large heads found on Cyprus. Other than its ability to be invisible to scientists up to now, just how did this species persist even with all the invasions of house mice and rats that kept coming ashore from ships?

Adaption. Cyprus may have specialized flora with large nuts that the foreign mice couldn't deal with, but the bighead mice could... large nuts like, maybe, coconuts? Rats might outcompete them for the nuts, but come a famine year and the mice may well do better than the rats because of their smaller size.

I'm tempted to propose the theory that these mice got so big-headed because they had to be brainy to avoid well-fed commando kitties.

Except that theory wouldn't explain the earlier discovery of another island mouse with a large head. This following is a photo of a Luzon island mouse.

Luzon island mouse photo. The mouse has light yellow-orange fur over dark grey skin, and is quite small.. its hindfoot is perched on the small finger, and its forefoot is resting on the index finger as it clings to the hand holding it in the picture. Its head appears to be a third of the body, and seems comparable to a hamster in proportion, but what do I know about rodents? The tail seems much longer than the mouse itself, and the tail goes down under the hand and peeks back between the second and third fingers

Okay, we've spoken of mice today. Next post: MEN.

-- Wilbrod the Gnome.


Cparkian said...

Is is because they are on islands? Doesn't some pattern relate to islands....evolution pattern?

Cparkian said...

Does the island effect come into play? Is there an island effect in evolution? My brain is on Friday-post 5 PM.

Wilbrod The Gnome said...

Yes, Islands tend to be specialized niches so many island species tend to gigantism, dwarfism, or other odd developments. When I suggested the mice are adapted to tough nuts, I was actually directly thinking of the situation with the Darwin's finches in the Galapagos. "The Beak of the Finch" is a pultizer-winning non-fiction book and a wonderfully lyric read.