Posts Tagged ‘House mouse’

Of Mice and Vikings

March 24, 2012

A recent paper from a multinational team of researchers from the UK, USA, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden describes studies of mytochondrial DNA (mtDNA)  in mice to track ancient Viking movements.  The mice genetics confirm the movements of the Vikings some 1000 years ago to Britain and Greenland and Iceland. They do not however provide any confirmation of the fleeting Viking presence in Newfoundland.

Viking movements: map from bbc.co.uk

“Modern house mouse populations were sampled across Iceland (9 localities), at Narsaq in Greenland (near the Viking Age ‘Eastern Settlement’) and in the north-west of Newfoundland (near the Norwegian Viking archaeological site at L’Anse aux Meadows, 4 localities).  Ancient DNA was obtained from archaeological house mouse bones. In Greenland, these were from the Norwegian Viking ‘Eastern Settlement’ (3 individuals) and ‘Western Settlement’ (2 individuals), dating from between 1015– 1165 AD. In Iceland, these were from four archaeological sites in the north of Iceland, three of which date to the 10th C (1 individual per site) and one of which dates to the Medieval period or later (1477–1717 AD; 2 individuals”.

E P Jones, K Skirnisson, T H McGovern, M TP Gilbert, E Willerslev, J B Searle. Fellow travellers: a concordance of colonization patterns between mice and men in the North Atlantic regionBMC Evolutionary Biology, 2012; 12 (1): 35 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-12-35

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