Monday, January 4

Viking mice

An article on the blog Spectre relates the subtle revelations of history that animal and plant companions to human communities inevitably relate. A narrative running parallel to our own, these symbiotes moved with human colonies, although I imagine without the intentions of altering the culturally landscape of their destination (although some did and have.) The head louse, for example, lives only in body hair; a subspecies, the body louse, lives only in clothing, and therefore must have diverged from its sister species when humans began to regularly don apparel. Rodents in the UK can trace their ancestry to Norwegian house mice, most likely stowaways on Viking ships. Dependent on dense human populations for food, the instances of these mice trace a path of human migration and settlement. "Like spies in the halls of history, our animal and plant companions hold lost secrets about our past. Through their genes we can trace the paths of ancient migrations and trade routes, and sometimes unpick the knot of successive waves of colonisation."

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