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These mice have no fear of cats

CNN-IBN
Dec 13, 2007 at 10:17am IST

Kanagawa (Japan): The old cat and mouse game will soon be played by new rules. And if you thought Jerry was the only mouse who could stand up to his sworn enemy Tom, the cat, think again.

Japanese scientists have now created mice with no fear for cats. This genetically modified mouse, unveiled by Japanese researchers at Tokyo University, has been rid of receptors on the olfactory bulb of its brain - the area that processes information about odors.

No smell, no fear.

"Mice fear cats because they are innately conditioned to fear when sensing the odor of the predators. So by getting rid of the specific receptors for sensing the odor, mice never feel afraid of cats," said Professor, Tokyo University, Ko Kobayashi.

In the video shown herewith, the cat is not genetically modified, although it was chosen for its exceptional docility.

Experts have long thought that fear in animals may be set off by their keen sense of smell. But this is the first time scientists have discovered how smells translate into fear in different parts of the olfactory bulb.

"Once removing innate elements by which mice fear cats from them, we are able to make mice who can get along with cats. So by applying this theory to other mammals, we will probably be able to make other animals that are not afraid of their natural enemies,” says Kobayashi.

But there is a catch. Researchers say the modified mice did freeze in fear on one occasion. All it took was the cat to meow.

Well, some things will never change!

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