Viking house mice staged their own invasion

posted 13 Mar 2014, 04:53 by Odd Henrik Brembo

(From The Scotsman Newspaper)

A groundbreaking study by researchers in Scotland and England has revealed that when Norwegian Vikings came to Scotland they also brought house mice which staged their own rodent invasion of the Northern and Western Isles and the north of Scotland. The study's findings are published today in the latest edition of The Proceedings of the Royal Society journal. They show that while house mice in the south of England owe their origins to the first house mice which arrived in Britain during the Iron Age, the first major house mice "invasion" of Scotland did not happen until centuries later, when the Vikings first sailed across the North Sea. One of the researchers, Dr Cath Jones, a senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Aberdeen University, said that by studying the genetic make-up of various house mice using DNA technology, the team had made some amazing discoveries.

"We have found that most of the mice in the north of Scotland – from Orkney, Shetland and Caithness – are all of one very similar type that we have named the Orkney lineage and they are very similar to Norwegian mice. And the only explanation for that is that when the Vikings came raping and pillaging to Scotland they took their house mice with them." Future studies with mice may help researchers document Viking movements such as the colonisation of Faroe, Iceland and even North America.