Viking mice did not survive long in Newfoundland

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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No evidence of marauder rodent DNA at L’Anse aux Meadows

Viking adventurers left more than fear and blond hair in their wake.

They were raider rodents, riding on ships with Norwegian Vikings as they sailed to points across the sea, from the late 8th to the mid-10th century.

However, according to a recent multinational study of house mouse DNA, the mice stowing away on viking vessels either never made it to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Northern Peninsula, or simply didn’t survive long when they arrived. 

Unlike the DNA of mice in Scotland, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland, mice collected around the viking site at L’Anse aux Meadows show no genetic evidence of the foreign invaders. 

“If house mice arrived in Newfoundland with the Viking settlers at all, then, like the humans, their presence was also fleeting and left no genetic trace,” states an article published in the latest edition of the scientific journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

The full article is available here (

If house mice arrived in Newfoundland with the Viking settlers at all, then, like the humans, their presence was also fleeting and left no genetic trace. BMC Evolutionary Biology

The work for the scientific article expanded on previous work wherein the viking presence across the northern and western British Isles was reflected in genetics of house mice with, for example, links being found between mice in Scotland and Ireland and Norwegian mice.

The latest study expanded this research to look at viking-associated areas in Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland.

While vikings intentionally brought along various domesticated animals, it is believed they also made unintentional contributions to the local wildlife populations where they visited.

It is believed patterns in the populations of house mice can offer indication as to how human populations travelled and developed.

More in The Telegram Tuesday.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Scotland, Ireland Iceland Greenland British Isles

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Recent comments

  • Brian
    March 19, 2012 - 13:55

    Of course there are no viking mice here. The skraling mice wiped them out in an epic battle.

  • Calfornia Pete from NFLD
    March 19, 2012 - 11:28

    No Norvigan. No Swedish. No Danish mice .What kind of study is that or maybe they should have sought of it because I am sure there are some in all the Scandinavian country's

    • Dave Adey
      March 19, 2012 - 12:50

      The only known trips here according to the sagas were from Iceland and Greenland. Popular belief is that the trips were made to cut timber; there is serious doubt that anyone would leave Europe to come here to cut timber.

    • Robert
      March 19, 2012 - 12:54

      Hey Pete! Maybe a little too much California weed in your Wheeties! I think you need to read the article a little slower! The point is being made that Norwegian, Swedish or Danish mice do not appear to have been brought to Newfoundland by the Vikings. Or the mice died once they got here.