Song Of The Singing Mouse What do humans, bottlenose dolphins, and the singing mice of the Costa Rican cloud forests have in common? Well according to a new scientific study, we all share the power of singing...in duets! But why?! And how?! Join Mindy, Guy Raz, and Reggie, as they visit these singing mice on their live concert tour, and witness this vocal turn taking with their eyes and ears! It's the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and Wow in the World of Singing Mice and the brains behind musical conversation!
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Song Of The Singing Mouse

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Song Of The Singing Mouse

Song Of The Singing Mouse

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MINDY THOMAS, HOST:

Psst. Hey, Wowzer fams. Mindy here. Before we start the show, I just wanted to let you know that starting today, tickets to all of our upcoming Wow in the World Pop Up Parties are officially on sale and open to the public. If you haven't heard yet, we'll be in Tampa, Fla., on April 6; Nashville, Tenn., on April 18; Boston, Mass., on June 2; Chicago, Ill., on July 6 and Denver, Colo., on July 14. Grown-ups, for tickets and more info on these upcoming live shows, just visit tinkercast.com/events. That's tinkercast.com/events. We can't wait to see you out in the world this spring and summer.

Oh, and P.S., one more thing. Grown-ups, NPR would like to better understand who was listening and how you are using podcasts. Please help us out by completing a short, anonymous survey at npr.org/podcastsurvey - one word. It takes less than 10 minutes and will really help support the show. That's npr.org/podcastsurvey - one word. And now let's get on with this brand-new episode of WOW IN THE WORLD.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Stay seated. Three, two, one, ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportion.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We're on our way, Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Mail's here.

THOMAS: Oh, mail's here. I'll get it, Reg.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Special delivery.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRASH)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, screaming).

THOMAS: Oh, looks like I overshot the door. Backtrack, moonwalk, backtrack, moonwalk.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Ma'am, please stop moonwalking away from me in shame.

THOMAS: Good afternoon, mail carrier. And how are we doing on this fine day?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Last week, there was a trapdoor under your doormat. Two weeks ago, a giant pigeon ordered 14 tons of gourmet birdseed to be delivered by mail.

THOMAS: Reggie...

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Three weeks ago, you mailed yourself an ice cream cone, which ended up melting all over my delivery bag.

THOMAS: Sorry. Next time, I'll spring for same-day shipping on the ice cream. So what do you have for me today?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Ok. Well, let's see. Looks like a new edition of Gingerbread Architecture Magazine...

THOMAS: Ooh la la.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) ...Several invitations to a croquet and multilevel marketing party from your neighbor Dennis...

THOMAS: You can keep those.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) ...And this huge box.

THOMAS: Whoa. What's inside it?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) I don't know.

THOMAS: Well, then could you shake it?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) No.

THOMAS: Yeah, just shake the box, and I'll guess what's inside.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, groaning) Fine.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

THOMAS: Is it a shirt?

RAZ: Stop. (Screaming).

THOMAS: No. It's got to be cat litter. Oh, no. It's one of those plant-your-own herb gardens. Maybe it's a ham.

RAZ: Stop. Stop.

THOMAS: Guy Raz?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Of course. It's a human being. OK. Have a good day, ma'am. I will be going on a long vacation.

RAZ: Surprise?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, what were you doing in that box? Did I do this to you?

RAZ: No, you did not do this to me, Mindy.

THOMAS: Yeah, you want to say that a little louder for the people in the back?

RAZ: Ahem. (Yelling) Mindy had nothing to do with this. I mailed myself myself.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Dennis) Hi, Guy. Could you keep it down, please?

THOMAS: But, Guy Raz, you live next door. I mean, if you wanted to come to my house, all you'd have to do is call Reggie to fly you over or take the Wow Machine or borrow my motor pickle or snag Dennis's roller blades.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Dennis) Hey. No.

RAZ: The truth is, Mindy, I've been trying to make an effort to be more - I don't know - spontaneous, to think outside the box a little.

THOMAS: Oh. So you literally climbed into a box and mailed yourself to my house next door.

RAZ: Well, yeah. But for good reason, Mindy. You see, I've got a surprise for you.

THOMAS: A surprise? Is it in the box?

RAZ: No.

THOMAS: So many packing peanuts. You think I can eat those?

RAZ: No, no, Mindy. Don't eat them. The surprise is not in the box. It's inside of me.

THOMAS: Oh. So are you going to barf it up?

RAZ: Barf it what?

THOMAS: I mean, you just said it was...

RAZ: Mindy, Mindy, I got three tickets to the America's Squeakhearts Hide and Squeak Concert Tour. Happy - when is your birthday?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Dennis) Mindy's birthday is Marchtember (ph) umpteenth. Wait. That can't be real. There aren't umpteen days in Marchtember. Mindy, are you trying to get extra birthday presents from me again?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, you know that America's Squeakhearts is my favorite band of the week.

RAZ: Yeah, yeah. I was just thinking that you were so kind to indulge me that time I wanted to go listen to my favorite elevator music band in that office building elevator downtown and...

THOMAS: Yeah, Guy Raz, I pretty much just complained the entire time.

RAZ: Well, that's what friends are for.

THOMAS: Wow. So when is the concert?

RAZ: Well, looking at my watch - huh.

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: That's weird.

THOMAS: What's weird?

RAZ: All of the numbers on my watch are out of order.

THOMAS: Oh, that's because I scrambled them all up for you.

RAZ: You what?

THOMAS: So a while ago, I got mad about daylight savings time, and I took it out on your watch. But hey, I got you that hour back.

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: You're welcome. (Yelling) Reggie.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Reggie, we've got a surprise for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Wait for it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Wait for it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Wait for...

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Reggie, the three of us are going to see America's Squeakhearts live and in concert on their Hide and Squeak tour. And it's a surprise. I just spoiled it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down there, Reggie. I'm not exactly picking up what you're saying mostly because I don't speak pigeon but also because you're talking faster than Mindy.

THOMAS: I got this. Say what, Reg?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Yeah. Uh-huh.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Oh, wow. Really?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Ooh la la.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: What's he saying, Mindy?

THOMAS: He's saying that America's Squeakhearts are at the center of a brand-new scientific breakthrough.

RAZ: A scientific breakthrough?

THOMAS: And their performance is basically going to take us through a whole re-enactment of the experiments that led to the breakthrough. What in the wow? This is going to be even better than I thought.

RAZ: They're going to do an experiment on stage? What are they, a singing duo of lab rats?

THOMAS: Actually, they're lab mice, Guy Raz, but not your typical lab mice.

RAZ: Wait. Did you say America's Squeakhearts are mice?

THOMAS: Well, yeah, they're my favorite band. What'd you think they were going to be, singing humans (laughter)?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Well...

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Come on, Guy Raz. Saddle up on Reggie's back. You'll see for yourself once we get there.

RAZ: OK. But I'm not sure this is what I signed up for. Singing mice? What are they going to come up with next - a band of singing chipmunks, a musical starring cats?

THOMAS: OK, Reg. Prepare for takeoff 'cause here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

THOMAS: I think our surprise landing is scaring all the mice away. Come back here, you little mice. Come back.

RAZ: (Screaming).

THOMAS: And I think all the mice are scaring Guy Raz away. Guy Raz, stop. They're not going to bite you. They're here for the concert, just like us.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Oh, right. The concert. We're here to see Mindy's favorite band, America's Squeakhearts, live in concert. They're just like any other band, only they're lab mice.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Tickets, please.

RAZ: And I have nothing to be freaked out about. We're all mammals.

THOMAS: Guy Raz, tickets?

RAZ: Oh, right. Three tiny tickets.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Thank you.

RAZ: I should've known by the size of these microscopic tickets that this concert would be performed by mice.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Here's your program. It explains the scientific breakthrough connected to the band. And on the back, there's a coupon for America's Squeakhearts merch booth.

THOMAS: Merch booth? Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run. run. Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Hello.

THOMAS: We'll take three matching sets of mouse ears...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) OK.

THOMAS: ...Three matching America's Squeakhearts Hide and Squeak tour T-shirts, three matching sets of mouse trap clip-on earrings and...

RAZ: Mindy, Mindy, Reggie doesn't have earlobes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: OK, make that two.

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: And three big wheels of cheese, please.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Here you go.

THOMAS: Thank you.

RAZ: Oh, Mindy, they're about to start. Come on. So, Mindy, Reggie was saying something earlier about this being a concert that re-enacts a scientific breakthrough?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. It's pretty amazing. So it all starts off with this neuroscientist.

RAZ: And a neuroscientist is a scientist who studies the nervous system - or the way our brains and spinal cords and nerve cells work together in our bodies.

THOMAS: Yeah. And so this neuroscientist named Michael Long and his team of researchers from New York University's School of Medicine noticed something very unusual about a particular species of mouse that lives in a tropical cloud forests of Central America.

RAZ: A species of mouse called the America's Squeakhearts?

THOMAS: What? No, that's just their band name. The mice in the band have a completely different name, and that name is Scotinomys teguina.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Mindy, Mindy, I told you I don't speak pigeon.

THOMAS: That's not pigeon talk, Guy Raz. That's their name.

RAZ: Huh.

THOMAS: They also have a nickname, which is much easier to say, Alston's singing mouse.

RAZ: Uh-huh. And let me guess - that unusual observation made by Dr. Long and his team was that these mice could sing?

THOMAS: Yes. But there's more.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Go on.

THOMAS: These scientists discovered that these mice can sing over 100 different musical notes and...

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Thank you. Thank you. Gracias. We are America's Squeakhearts. (Speaking Spanish). But it's confusing. This one goes out to all the ladies.

RAZ: (Groaning) Come on.

THOMAS: No, really, what you're about to see are the two lead singers of the band engage in a little rap battle to win the hearts of the lady mice in the audience - or at least one in particular, though she could be any one of these mice for all we know.

RAZ: A rap battle? You mean like a singing duel to win the affection of a mate?

THOMAS: Well, yeah, basically. And while there are other mice that will sing for love or whatever you call it in the rodent world, most of the time, human ears can't hear them. But these singing mice - well, they come in loud and clear.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICE SQUEAKING)

RAZ: What just happened?

THOMAS: Isn't this bonkerballs? That back-and-forth, call-and-response vocal turn-taking - it was like a fast-paced musical conversation.

RAZ: You know, Mindy, now that I think about it, I guess that is pretty amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Thank you. Thank you. Gracias.

RAZ: I mean, all the different vocal muscles and parts of their little mouse brains that had to work together to create that snappy, back-and-forth sing-off. I mean, that's just not something you see very often in the animal kingdom, well, unless you count us humans.

THOMAS: Well, that's just the thing, Guy Raz. See. Doctor Long and his team noticed this in the wild cloud forests of Costa Rica and decided to invite these singing mice back to their lab at NYU.

RAZ: And just like that, they came?

THOMAS: Well, they did promise them some pretty cush digs - you know, day like workout equipment in their cages, organic meal worms, dry cat food three times a day, fresh fruit, a lucrative record deal, a national tour.

RAZ: It took all of that to get these mice to visit their lab at NYU?

THOMAS: Yeah. I mean, Dr. Long has actually been quoted as saying that they're kind of divas, especially when you compare them to their lab mice cousins.

RAZ: So, Mindy, once Dr. Long and his team got the singing mice settled into their plush laboratory apartments, what did they do?

THOMAS: Well, they began rehearsal.

RAZ: And by rehearsal, you mean...

THOMAS: I mean, they let the singing mice sing their brains out while researchers studied their brains over a few different experiments.

RAZ: So let me just make sure I've got this straight. The researchers knew that these mice could sing, but they wanted to know what was happening in their brains that allowed them to sing duets or musical conversations.

THOMAS: Basically, yeah. So humans have the unique ability to take turns while talking in a conversation. You know, so immediately starting a new sentence when the person you're talking to ends theirs.

RAZ: Huh.

THOMAS: And in fact, that pause between when one person starts talking and the next person picks up is only about a fraction of a second.

RAZ: And I guess that means that our vocal muscles and our brains have to work together extremely quickly and send signals back and forth to make that happen at such a fast speed.

THOMAS: Right. But why? And how? And what part of our brains controls this complicated operation?

RAZ: And that must be where the experiments with the singing mice divas come in.

THOMAS: Well, they prefer to be called America's Squeakhearts. But yeah. See. These researchers were hoping that by studying the pretty simple brains of these mice, they might better understand how back-and-forth conversation works and are much more complicated human brains.

RAZ: So what was the first experiment?

THOMAS: Hang on. I'll tell you in a sec.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Gracias. OK. We'd like to welcome a special guest up to the stage. Let's give it up for the bottlenose dolphins.

RAZ: What a band name.

THOMAS: What? That's just their name. Woo. Bottlenose dolphins, yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOLPHIN CALL)

RAZ: Wait. Are they flopping onto the stage? Hey, shouldn't those dolphins be in the water?

THOMAS: See. Bottlenose dolphins are one of the only other mammals besides humans and singing mice that sing in that vocal turn-taking style. Watch this.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOLPHIN CALLS)

THOMAS: Wow.

RAZ: Maybe they sound a little better underwater?

(SOUNDBITE OF DOLPHIN CALLS)

THOMAS: So back to these brain experiments, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Oh, yeah. Where were we?

THOMAS: The first thing they did was take the two mice and put them in separate cages where they could hear each other but not see each other. And then the researchers just sat back and listened.

RAZ: And what did they hear?

THOMAS: Well, they heard the mice having a musical conversation.

RAZ: Huh.

THOMAS: In fact, they learned that they sing differently together than they do when they're alone or solo.

RAZ: That's interesting.

THOMAS: But what's really interesting is that they learned that these mice have certain unspoken rules to their musical back-and-forth, just like we humans do when we're having a conversation.

RAZ: Rules, huh? Well, I did notice when the mice were on stage having their singing duel, that they seemed to be very polite with each other. I mean, they never sang over each other. And they seemed to pay attention to when the other mouse was finished before picking up the next verse. And then also...

THOMAS: And they never interrupted.

RAZ: Ahem.

THOMAS: Uh-huh?

RAZ: Not like some humans do...

THOMAS: So anywho, once these researchers figured out the way these mice communicate through song, they wanted to figure out what part of their brains were responsible for telling them when to sing and when to wait their turn.

RAZ: And how did they do that?

THOMAS: OK, so they used these tiny, electric sensors or tools to help them read the signals that the mice's brains were sending to their vocal muscles.

RAZ: And by seeing what part of the brain was lit up or active while they were singing, they could determine what part of the brain was responsible for telling the mice when to sing.

THOMAS: Exactoritos, Guy Raz. And they discovered that it was the part of the brain known as the orofacial motor cortex, or the OMC for short.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) All right. Let's hear it again for the bottlenose dolphins. All right. All right.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOLPHIN CALL)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) For this next song, we are going to speed things up a bit. Rapido, no? Here we go. Vamonos.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICE SQUEAKING)

RAZ: Whoa. What is happening? They're singing so fast that they're all out of tune.

THOMAS: Oh, wow. This is just like in the experiment.

RAZ: Huh?

THOMAS: So using those same electronic sensors, Dr. Long and his team sped up the signals that the mice's brains were sending to their vocal muscles. And before they knew it, the mice were going all bonkerballs and singing all the wrong notes and completely out of tune.

RAZ: And I'm guessing that if they sped up the signals, then they also experimented with slowing them down.

THOMAS: You know it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Thank you. Thank you. Gracias. And now let's slow things down. (Speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF MICE SQUEAKING)

RAZ: Whoa. Are they singing in slow motion?

THOMAS: It almost seems that way. See. After experimenting with what would happen if they sped up those brain signals, they decided to experiment with slowing them down.

RAZ: And what happened?

THOMAS: Well, it turns out these mice could still sing the right notes. There were just longer spaces in between. And it took them a lot longer to finish.

RAZ: Amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Thank you. Thank you. And thank you all for coming to the show. We've got one more song. Oh, yes, I know. I know. The bands is going to sit this one out.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) It's called "Who Turned Out The Lights?"

(SOUNDBITE OF MICE SQUEAKING)

THOMAS: Oh, this must be the last part of the experiment.

RAZ: They turned out the lights?

THOMAS: Well, metaphorically speaking, yeah, kind of.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICE SQUEAKING)

THOMAS: See. After speeding up and then slowing down that OMC section of the mice's brains, they decided to turn that OMC section off completely. They just turned out the lights.

RAZ: They shut off the mice brains?

THOMAS: No, no, no, no, not the whole brain, just one little, tiny part, the OMC, and only temporarily.

RAZ: And what did they find?

THOMAS: Well, they found that the mice could still sing...

RAZ: Yeah?

THOMAS: ...But only to themselves. In other words, they could no longer sing back and forth to each other - no more musical conversation.

RAZ: They became solo artists?

THOMAS: Only temporarily. Before the mice even knew it, they turned that OMC part of their brains back on. And that was the end of the experiment.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: Incredible. Mindy, this must mean that the OMC part of the singing mouse's brain isn't what gives them the power to sing, but it is what gives them the power to sing in a back-and-forth way, just like we humans and bottlenose dolphins. Winner winner, mouse trap dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Thank you. Gracias. You have been an amazing audience. Our new album is called "Hide And Squeak." Please check it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Peace, love, and be nice to one another. Buenos noches.

RAZ: Wow, what an amazing concert.

THOMAS: Yeah. Thanks for surprising Reggie and me with the tickets, Guy Raz. That was our first time seeing them perform live since the experiments.

RAZ: Yeah. And about those experiments, you know, Mindy, I'm wondering if these researchers are planning to take what they've learned and use this new information to help solve other problems with human communication.

THOMAS: Well, it just so happens that they are. See. Now that we understand how the OMC part of the singing mouse's brain controls its ability to have singing conversations with other singing mice, Dr. Long and his team are planning future studies to see if they can find the human version of the OMC in our brains.

RAZ: With the thought that it might hold clues as to how we humans are able to have such quick back-and-forth conversations.

THOMAS: Right. But not only that - they're hoping that they can take what they learned from these experiments and come up with new ways to help people whose brains don't let them have these quick back-and-forth conversations.

RAZ: So like some people with autism, whose brains work differently, or maybe people who have had strokes, where parts of their brains stop working altogether.

THOMAS: Or people like me who sing all the wrong notes at all the wrong times and can't stop interrupting.

RAZ: I think that might be something worth experimenting on your own, Mindy.

THOMAS: Speaking of experimenting, is that Reggie backstage trying to communicate with a bottlenose dolphin?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING AND DOLPHIN CALLING)

RAZ: And I thought a mouse rap battle was going to be the weirdest thing I saw today.

THOMAS: What in the wow?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING AND DOLPHIN CALLING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: WOW IN THE WORLD will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That's it. Back to the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

THOMAS: Hi. Thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

NORA: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Nora (ph). And I'm from Toronto. And my wow in the world is that more people been to space than in the deepest part of the ocean.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

LUKE: My name's Luke (ph), and I'm from Australia. Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. A hundred and seventy-five million years ago, all the countries were joined together as a supercontinent called Pangaea. Love your show. Say hi to Reggie for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

ALLY: Hey, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Ally (ph), and I live in Lederach, Pa. My wow in the world is you can grow a plant in water without soil. Bye. Love your show. P.S., say hi to Grandma G-Force.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As Grandma G-Force) Booyah.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

ANASTASIA: Aloha, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Anastasia (ph). I'm from the Big Island of Hawaii. My wow in the world is that sound you hear in the background. They're coqui frogs. They're native to Puerto Rico but came to Hawaii by hiding in potted plants. And now they're everywhere. Goodbye. Love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

MAISIE: Hi. My name is Maisie (ph). I'm 9 years old. And I live in Anchorage, Alaska. And my wow in the world is that when dogs drink water, their tongues move backwards like a spoon to get more water. Bye. Say hi to Reggie for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

AIDEN: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Aiden (ph). And I live in West Lebanon, N.H. My wow in the world is that butterflies smell with their feet. Say hi to Reggie for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

STELLA: Hi. My name is Stella (ph). And I live in Atlanta, Ga. And my wow in the world is horses can't throw up. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz and Reggie.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

STELLA: I listen to your show every night. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

BLUE: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Blue (ph), and I'm from Las Vegas, Nev. My wow in the world is that research suggests that pigeons can do math at the same level as some monkeys. Reggie, can you do math?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

BLUE: Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz. Love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for hanging out with us this week on WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And to keep the wow rolling, check out this week's scientific conversation starters at our website wowintheworld.com.

THOMAS: And, grown-ups, there you can find more info on how your kids can become members of the World Organization of Wowzers, shop our Wow Shop, upload photos and videos to us and check dates for our upcoming live events. That's wowintheworld.com.

RAZ: Our show is produced by Jed Anderson...

THOMAS: Who provides the bells, whistles and silly characters. Say hello, Jed.

JED ANDERSON, BYLINE: Yello.

THOMAS: Our show is written by me, Guy Raz and Thomas van Kalken, who also provides silly characters. Tom?

THOMAS VAN KALKEN, BYLINE: Hello there.

RAZ: Thanks also to Jessica Boddy, Casey Koeffer (ph), Rebecca Caban (ph), Kit Ballenger (ph) and Alex Curley. Meredith Halpern-Ranzer powers the wow at Tinkercast.

THOMAS: Our theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. For more info on their two-time-Grammy-nominated, all-ages music, find them at thepopups.com.

RAZ: And, grown-ups, you can follow WOW IN THE WORLD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @wowintheworld. And our email address is hello@wowintheworld.com.

THOMAS: And if you're a kid with a big wow to share with us, call us at 1-888-7-WOW-WOW for a chance to be featured at the end of the show.

RAZ: Also, if you haven't already done so, please subscribe to WOW IN THE WORLD on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

THOMAS: Yeah. Leave us a few stars, a review. Or just tell a friend about the show.

RAZ: Thanks again for listening. And until next time...

GUY RAZ AND MINDY THOMAS: Keep on wowing.

THOMAS: Jinx.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

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