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← [UPDATE 8-28]From mousy to blonde - in 8,000 years

[UPDATE 8-28]From mousy to blonde - in 8,000 years - Comments

gordon's Avatar Comment 1 by gordon

Simples, Blondes have more fun!

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 11:22:00 UTC | #392437

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 2 by Dhamma

What a beautiful illustration of how evolution works.

Even creationists should be able to understand this article.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 11:54:00 UTC | #392455

Bolland's Avatar Comment 3 by Bolland

This, blonde mice in sand hills or dunes, is also cited and explained in Jerry Coyne's book-- Why Evolution Is True. That it might take 8,000 generations as described in this article seems to me to be far too long given the predation disadvantage for a mouse in being a brunette. After all it has only taken homo s. about 2-3,000 generations to go from the ancestral black skin to white with freckles and red hair (and presumably our black ancestors weren't getting picked off by giant owls). 8,000 generations can't be right.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 12:04:00 UTC | #392462

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 4 by God fearing Atheist

2. Comment #410272 by Dhamma
Even creationists should be able to understand this article.

... and it will be ... wait for it ... GODDIDIT!

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 12:20:00 UTC | #392474

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 5 by Quetzalcoatl

Bah. I sent the BBC version of this article in. Don't know why I bother. :-(

God fearing Atheist-

No, the response will be: but it's still a mouse!

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 12:31:00 UTC | #392480

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 6 by Crazycharlie

Blondes have more offspring...

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 12:36:00 UTC | #392483

Misc's Avatar Comment 7 by Misc

2. Comment #410272 by Dhamma
Even creationists should be able to understand this article.

Problem is, they will just declare it "microevolution" and tralalala all seems well.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 13:16:00 UTC | #392496

Pyrion's Avatar Comment 8 by Pyrion

If creationists say "But it's still a mouse" you should reply "And we are still apes". Gotcha.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 13:25:00 UTC | #392499

Billy Sands's Avatar Comment 9 by Billy Sands

This is similar to stuff already known for rock pocket mice (Chaetodipus intermedius):

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 13:27:00 UTC | #392502

canatheist's Avatar Comment 10 by canatheist

So these 2 blonde mice are talking, and one says to the other... How was that date with that short dark and handsome mouse yesterday?

She replies... Not good, just as things were getting interesting, he was swooped up by a hawk! Evolution really sucks sometimes!

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 14:27:00 UTC | #392531

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 11 by rod-the-farmer


Fri, 28 Aug 2009 14:32:00 UTC | #392534

PJG's Avatar Comment 12 by PJG


It says 8,000 years, not 8,000 generations. I may be wrong, but I think mice generally have quite a short generation time and several litters each year. 8,000 year could equate to about 50,000 generations - perhaps someone who knows could tell us what the generation time for Deer Mice is?

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 15:10:00 UTC | #392562

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 13 by SaintStephen

The deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, is the most widespread mammal in North America.

In the end, natural selection turned the whole mouse community blonde.

Perhaps the new species can be renamed Peroxide-us maniculatus.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 15:30:00 UTC | #392578

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 14 by Stafford Gordon

Perfect encapsulation, clear as day and true.

Won't make the slightest difference to the ID brigade.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 15:39:00 UTC | #392584

Bolland's Avatar Comment 15 by Bolland


I used a year as the generation period for this mouse and twenty years for homo s. You may be right that the mouse has a shorter time from birth to breeding capacity but that only makes a period like 8,000 years seem ridiculously long (in mouse time) for the change in coat color to occur, especially given the strong selective pressures involved. If the mouse generation period is six months then 8,000 years equates to 320,000 years in human evolution making the change from brunette to blonde in mice seem trivial.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 15:53:00 UTC | #392596

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 16 by Chrysippus_Maximus

This totally explains Sweden.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:01:00 UTC | #392604

Bolland's Avatar Comment 17 by Bolland


See below re. the breeding capacity of deer mice:


So, we see that these little guys have the capacity under ideal conditions to have eight generations in a year. Now the 8,000 years is equal to 1.28 million of human evolutionary history. That is equal to 25% of our way back to a common ancestor with a chimp. The fact that these mice have six nipples doesn't seem to bear on the issue at hand.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:02:00 UTC | #392606

crystalclear's Avatar Comment 18 by crystalclear

"But the researchers found that the Agouti gene only appeared among wild deer mice in Sand Hills around 4,000 years ago, just a few thousand years after dark mice colonised their new home. That means it first evolved 8000 generations of mice ago."
Quote is from the BBC website. Would make better sense?

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:02:00 UTC | #392607

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 19 by mordacious1

There is a lot more involved in the change of coat color than predators, so I can understand how it takes 8,000 years (or generations, which seems more likely) for it to happen.

Population geneticists have discovered that coat color in deer mice is determined by a single locus with two alleles, where dark is D and pale is d. What you have to determine is how MUCH selective force is exerted by predators. Many of the dominate color mice can hide in shadows or holes (whatever) and persist (they will not be totally wiped out by predators). Also, you have migration of darker dominate mice into the area.

So, the generations it takes depends on how successful the predators are, the persistence of the D (Harvey-Weinberg Principle), and other factors, such as migration. One state away, with different circumstances, the fur color could have changed in 6000 generations, or 10,000.

(disclosure) I'm not a biologist, so take this with a grain of salt.:)

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:18:00 UTC | #392617

masubi's Avatar Comment 20 by masubi

Now...when that blonde mouse turns into a blonde bat...THEN the creationists might take a step back...hunh? hunh? well? whaddya think?

Live a good life,


Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:30:00 UTC | #392625

Moq's Avatar Comment 21 by Moq

Generally speaking, wouldn't it be rather difficult to evaluate if the genetic dominance of a certain trait x within y years/generations is fast or slow due to complex variations of an environment z by comparing it to different variables connected to another biological entity.

Did that make sense? Well, I'm not a biologist either. ;-)

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:48:00 UTC | #392637

Bolland's Avatar Comment 22 by Bolland

Aha! The updated piece now makes the facts clearer. The agouti gene didn't exist until c. 4,000 years ago. A great example of a random mutation being strongly selected given the environment advantages. They cite a 0.5% advantage (p.s. how on earth do they calculate that except by observing its spread, which seems circular?). Anyway, given a 0.5% advantage you could make a very good living at blackjack.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 16:50:00 UTC | #392639

Corylus's Avatar Comment 23 by Corylus

<!-- -->This really makes me miss my avatar.

Posts picture...


Anyway, to stay on thread see how I vary from my African Dormouse cousin...

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 17:22:00 UTC | #392660

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 24 by Dr. Strangegod

Okay, but where's the crocoduck? Evolution is such bullshit.

...presumably our black ancestors weren't getting picked off by giant owls.
Presume nothing! The animals were HUGE back then!

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 17:30:00 UTC | #392661

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 25 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #410456 by Moq

The environment causes natural selection. The selective pressure, if it is constant over time, can be calculated. If not, then we can calculate by the same procedure a time-averaged figure. There's no problem there.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 18:23:00 UTC | #392681

Moq's Avatar Comment 26 by Moq

Jos, I think you're either referring to the wrong comment, and meant Bolland's instead, or misunderstanding mine.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 18:45:00 UTC | #392688

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 27 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #410508 by Moq

I'll go with the 2nd option then.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 19:28:00 UTC | #392694

Bullet-Magnet's Avatar Comment 28 by Bullet-Magnet

Reminds me of the rock pocket mice described in this fascinating lecture series

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 22:16:00 UTC | #392724

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 29 by Michael Gray

Comparing mice and men is not really appropriate.
Human skin colour is most likely a result of mainly sexual selection, not environment.
This method of selection can operate with startling speed when compared with true natural selection.

(Cf: Tasmanian Aborigines vs. Saharan natives as just one example that disproves the old 'climate rule')

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 23:30:00 UTC | #392733

Bolland's Avatar Comment 30 by Bolland

Michael Gray,

Well if it's good enough for Steinbeck (Of Mice And Men) it's good enough for me and I feel justified in making the comparison. Also, while sexual selection may well be a factor in changing human skin color who is to say that also isn't a factor with mice? Myself, I prefer your blonde mouse. While certainly not very deeply read on the topic, I had thought that one of the primary environmental influences for skin colors in humans as they drifted north was the need to generate vitamin D in the weaker sunlight, hence a benefit in lighter skin color.

Sat, 29 Aug 2009 00:01:00 UTC | #392738