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Viking Explorers Carried Fuzzy Stowaways



Between the eighth and 10th centuries, Vikings were exploring and spreading into Greenland, Iceland and Newfoundland. Now, a new study finds that these notoriously fierce people brought with them some fluffy stowaways: house mice.
Vikings appear to have brought the house mice with them when they arrived in Iceland and Greenland, according to a genetic analysis of the tiny rodents. The descendents of these Viking mice can still be found today in Iceland, though the Greenland mice died out and were replaced by their Danish cousins.
“Human settlement history over the last 1,000 years is reflected in the genetic sequence of mouse mitochondrial DNA,” said study researcher Eleanor Jones of the University of York and Uppsala University in a statement, referring to DNA found in mitochondria, or the energy-producing centers of cells. “We can match the pattern of human populations to that of the house mice.”
Like many explorers, Vikings brought along livestock on their expeditions.
Today, the descendents of these Viking mice are still found in Iceland. But for reasons unknown, Mus musculus domesticus would later die out in Greenland, the researchers report Monday (March 19) in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Today, the mice in Greenland are Mus musculus muscularis, a subspecies that likely came from Denmark during expeditions after A.D. 1500 or later, after the country colonized Greenland in the 1700s.
The researchers found no evidence of Viking mice in Newfoundland, despite the likely presence of a Viking settlement there around A.D. 1000. It’s possible that the Vikings did inadvertently bring mice to the area, the researchers suggest, but the mice may have died out when the Vikings moved on. more at source
Short URL: http://www.newsnet14.com/?p=98922 

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