Welcome once again dear science-minded readers, this week you join me and Ryan as we hang around Salford Canal in search of mice! For this gripping chapter we’re looking at that pint-sized superhero Mighty Mouse and so what better place to look for mice than by the side of Salford Canal. We’ve definitely seen a few rats knocking about around here, if you catch my drift, and one or two of them have been giving Ryan the eye! Naturally we don’t want to hang around here too long, so let’s get started!
WHO IS MIGHTY MOUSE?
Mighty Mouse is the animated superhero created by Paul Terry, who first appeared in 1942 in the animated short The Mouse of Tomorrow. He may only have been the size of an average mouse, but he had super powers that included X-Ray vision, flight, invulnerability, telekinesis and super strength and all of these helped him fight his arch nemesis Oil Can Harry! Basically Mighty Mouse was the rodent equivalent of Superman...
...just don't mention it to DC Comics.
HMMM, HE SURE DOES SOUND MIGHTY; BUT WHAT MAKES ORDINARY MICE SO SPECIAL?
Well, mice are mammals from the Rodent order and they’re pretty adaptable scamps, who live in most environments. They’re herbivores; they have great hearing and a fantastic sense of smell, which comes in handy for finding food and also hot footing it away from predators. Oh and remember when we looked at the sex life of rabbits back in part 9? Well, forget how rampant they are, as mice are much worse! Mice breed usually from just 50 days old with the gestation period at just 20 days and the average litter produced around 10 – 12; so if you want genuinely fast super shaggers, then mice are for you. However the rate at which they ‘get their grove on’ is also one of the reasons why mice have become useful to lab scientists… which is not so great for the mice!
TELL ME MORE.
Mice share similarities with humans (similar organs etc) and because they’re small animals who reproduce quickly, they’re a cheap and fast way to monitor a life cycle without having to wait around for years. They can also be genetically modified.
Yep, men (and women) of science have been genetically meddling with mice since the mid ‘70s, as part of an on-going study to eradicate a variety of diseases and conditions that can be monitored through the life of a lab mouse. There are many moral and ethical arguments to this type of study, but it is the belief of the scientific community that lab mice can unlock cures for illnesses that plague the human race a lot quicker than through other means of testing.
SO HOW ALIKE ARE MICE AND MIGHTY MOUSE?
There are obvious similarities between the two (what with them both being mice) so in that respect they are very alike; however the average mouse doesn’t wear a cape and isn’t exactly mighty. The better question would be to ask, ‘how alike are genetically modified mice and Mighty Mouse?’ as this is a more interesting question and one more likely to give you better results. You see those clever boffins who like to fiddle with mouse DNA have managed to genetically alter mice to make them a bit more… super. Some have been altered to become stronger and in the case of Metabolic supermice, these little rodents have been modified so that they can run faster than the average mouse! One side effect of the increased speed in supermice does seem to be increased aggression, but they’re certainly a lot mightier than their cousins and are the closest thing to a superhero mouse you’re likely to see.
SO WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS IT’S NOT VERY LIKELY THAT A MOUSE WOULD BECOME A SUPERHERO.
Erm… no. Considering the fact that the human race experiment on mice, the chances that a mouse is going to turn around and help you out is highly unlikely.
That’s it for this chapter, next week we’re talking pigs! See you back soon.