Mutant mouse tweets like a bird.

A laboratory at the University of Osaka running an ongoing study on evolution has revealed that they’ve produced a genetically engineered mouse that tweets like a bird. They’ve produced more than 100 of them actually, as well as a mouse with short limbs and one with a tail like a dachshund. It’s all part of a larger study into how genetic mutations drive evolutions and diverse outcomes that can come about as a result of miscopying DNA.

The researchers didn’t engineer the mouse to tweet, though there was some genetic tinkering that led to the singing mouse’s arrival. The lab created the mouse as part of its “Evolved Mouse Project,” which genetically modifies mice to be prone to miscopying DNA. From there, the outcomes are left to chance as the team has cross-bred the mutation prone mice for generations.

According to the lead researcher at the lab, they were checking their newborn mice one at a time and one day came across a mouse that was singing just like a bird – a point that is significant beyond being both weird and interesting. Scientists already know that birds don’t sing haphazardly, but in a way that is governed by a set of linguistic rules that form strings of sounds. In other words it’s ordered noise, much like human speech.

The team now hopes their tweeting mice will lend insight on how human language evolved over history. Mice, after all, are much closer to humans in terms of biology and brain, and by seeing how they chirp in the company of other mice and when placed in certain situations, they might learn how human linguistics came to be as well as how they were shared among groups.

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Russian judge: Court ruling on gay pride ban culturally insensitive.

A Russian judge has criticised an earlier ruling by the European Court of Human Rights declaring bans on three planned gay pride parades in Moscow to have been in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Valery Zorkin, Constitutional Court Chairman, told a news conference in Moscow that the ruling in October disregarded some aspects of Russian society.

“Such a sensitive issue, something that is allowed at such festivals in Amsterdam or Berlin with their sexual minorities. I want to point out that in Russia sexual minorities are under the protection of the constitution as well. But you just try to arrange a gay parade in Makhachkala or in Grozny or in Kazan with support from the Strasbourg court. You realise what will happen in Russia, don’t you?” he said.

Makhachkala, Grozny and Kazan are the capitals of the predominantly Muslim Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya and Tatarstan respectively.

“What are those ladies and gentlemen thinking about when they are sitting inside that glass building and throwing stones at others?” added Zorkin.

On 21 October the European Court of Human Rights declared bans by the Moscow city government on planned gay pride parades in 2006, 2007 and 2008 to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, said Nikolay Alexeyev, the leader of the Russian gay movement.

The court ordered Russia to pay the parade organisers 17,000 euros (£14,000) in compensation for their judiciary costs and 12,000 euros (£10,000) as emotional damage compensation, added Alexeyev.

Russian government approves START treaty.

The Russian government approved the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the first of three votes, with the count 350 of 450 votes. A huge step towards Barack Obamas goals of a significant reduction in the worlds nuclear arsenal. The two remaining rounds of votes will probably take place at the beginning of the new year.

The US Senate has already approved the treaty, and it comes as no surprise that the russians did the same.

The Russian First Chamber of the National assembly and the Federation council also have to approve the treaty before it´s valid.