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Mice speak similarly to humans: Study

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Researchers have discovered that grasshopper mice (genus Onychomys), rodents known for their remarkably loud call, produce audible vocalizations in the same way that humans speak and wolves howl.

Researchers from Northern Arizona University, Midwestern University at Glendale and Ritsumeikan University in Japan used heliox experiments, laryngeal and vocal tract morphological investigations and biomechanical modelling to investigate how grasshopper mice produce spectacular long-distance calls.

Grasshopper mice employ both a traditional whistle-like mechanism used by other mice and rats and a unique airflow-induced tissue vibration like that of humans, according to new research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Grasshopper mice are predatory rodents that inhabit deserts, grasslands and prairies of the western United States and northern Mexico.

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“Our findings provide the first evidence of a mouse that produces sound like humans and sets the stage for studies on vocal injuries and aging,” said lead author Bret Pasch, NAU assistant professor and Merriam-Powell Center affiliate.

“Moreover, the research provides a baseline for a larger comparative analysis of vocalizations in rodents, which comprise more than 40 percent of mammalian diversity but whose many voices remain undiscovered.”

Grasshopper mice, like most other mice, produce ultrasonic vocalizations above the range of human hearing in close-distance social interactions through whistle-like mechanisms.

Naturalist Vernon Bailey described the call of grasshopper mice as a “wolf’s howl in miniature.”

Both male and female animals often assume an upright posture and open their mouths widely to generate a loud call that may carry more than 100 meters.

Grasshopper mice have relatively large home ranges, so their calls serve as a mechanism to detect mates and competitors across large distances.

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Entertainment

Google changes YouTube revenue rule

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KATHMANDU — Google is making the biggest changes ever to the advertising rules on the most popular video platform, YouTube, since the video site’s inception, an attempt to clean up its content and answer persistent complaints from advertisers.

The world’s largest video platform will kick thousands of people out of its ad revenue-sharing program, and will make it much harder for new ones to get into the program. The change is among one of YouTube’s responses to a year of criticism it has generated for a series of scandals involving questionable and offensive content that has appeared on the site.

YouTube will now impose stricter rule for video types that can earn money on the site and will introduce a new vetting process for the top-shelf videos it offers advertisers, the company said Tuesday in a statement.

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YouTube’s new rules require anyone who wants to generate revenue on the platform to first generate 4,000 hours of ‘watchtime’ over a 12-month period, and to attract at least 1,000 subscribers.

That replaces a lower hurdle of 10,000 lifetime views, which the site instituted last spring, after a first wave of negative stories about rogue content.

YouTube, in a blog post, says the new rules will affect ‘a significant’ number of its user-created channels, but won’t provide an official tally.

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