An intricate scientific process, evolved over many years, may be helping the small rodents escape when they’re caught, according to animal behaviour experts.
Mice produce a sweat chemical which confuses cats, giving them enough time to plot their route to freedom, suggests Prof Benjamin Hart, from the University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
They secrete molecules, called lactones, which have a mesmerising effect on their feline captor similar to the effect of catnip, which contains a molecule called nepetalactone.
OK, but as always we need to get the logic and causality the right way around here:
Scientists suggest mice may have developed the ability to generate this sweat chemical due to evolutionary forces.
The physiological process may have developed over many years as a way of helping them survive when they find themselves in the clutches of a ferocious cat.
Prof Hart told The Telegraph: “Mice produce lactones in the skin, which are excreted when mice are stressed.
“I hypothesised that mice evolved an alteration in the lactone to resemble nepetalactone and evoke catnip reactions in cats. Because the catnip, nepetalactone, induces playful behaviour, this gives mice a chance to escape”.
We must make sure to remember that the emission of lactone didn’t evolve to do anything at all. That’s just random mutation. It’s that those that did this were more likely to escape cat attacks and thus live long enough to pass on the mutation.
OK, cool, but this is also how economies work. Sure, there’s conscious thought rather than random mutation going into the activities of many economic actors – although not all perhaps – but the end effect is much the same. It’s not that the system has been designed in order to achieve this or that, it’s that those actors – or systems – which do this or that survive. Which is a warning to planners – at the very minimum Chesterton’s Fence must be seriously considered.