Overpopulated Mouse Colony Perishes
Status: A hoax (perhaps?) based on a real experiment
Henry Rosenbaum emailed me with the following description of a hoax, followed by a question:
For 30 years, from the mid-1960's, I lived in central Michigan, about a four hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where my wife and I often visited for weekends. I well recall an exhibit at one of the major museums that featured an enclosed cage/environment with a number of mice and a descriptive explanation to the effect: The mice were limited in the amount of space they were afforded, yet they were provided all the food and water their colony required, regardless of its numbers. The display stated they had at first healthily thrived and multiplied but as their supported numbers greatly increased without any increase in territory, the members became first combative and then homosexual, with the ultimate dying out of the colony despite the unlimited physical resources. Of course this was to illustrate what (perhaps as Malthus had predicted?) would ultimately happen to man if population growth was not checked.
I believed it was shortly after I left Michigan (mid-1990s) that I read in a West Coast newspaper that the museum had acknowledged the exhibit was a hoax made up in the minds of its (two, as I recall) researchers. I neglected then to clip the article and have for the last couple of years been unsuccessfully trying to re-locate the information of the hoax and its details. I had hoped it might be mentioned in your book and then attempted to research your web site under both mice and rats with variations as well as under several subject matters, all without success. I would appreciate if you could point me in the right direction.
I had never heard of this experiment/museum exhibit before (which is why it's neither in my book or on the site). Does it ring a bell with anyone?
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