Named ‘Vertebrate of The Year’ for 2013 by the ‘Science’ journal, naked mole rats are the pretty weird yet amazing mammals with some remarkable physical traits that are rare to find in other animal species.
Naked mole rat, also known as sand puppy and desert mole rat, are the weird-looking rodents native to East Africa. They belong to the highest classification of sociality known as ‘eusociality’. Its highly unusually unique and extraordinary traits enables it to thrive in a harsh underground environment. Because of these traits, the journal Science named the naked mole-rat "Vertebrate of the Year" for 2013
Here are some weirdest things you should know about hairless mole rat.
The naked mole rats have an ability to survive without oxygen for 18 minutes. As the researchers find, the bodies of desert mole rat can uses fructose in its anaerobic glycolysis for fuelling vital organs such as heart and brain when there’s no oxygen. In the air containing 5% oxygen, they can survive for at least 5 hours without showing any significant signs of distress and carries out its regular activities. And in it can live in an atmosphere of 80% carbon dioxide and 20% oxygen.
The absence of hair or fur on naked mole rat’s bodies makes them look pink and wrinkled. They have little hair on their bodies, somewhere about 100 fine hairs. This also prevents them from becoming host to parasites like bad fleas. Their skin lacks an insulating layer.
Back in 2013, the scientists at University of Rochester found out that naked mole rats are not vulnerable to cancer and that’s because they have extremely high-molecular-mass hyaluronan" (HMW-HA) which is a natural sugary substance. HMW_HA is more than 5 times larger in cancer-susceptible lab animals and cancer-prone humans.
The visual acuity of naked moles is very poor, making them almost blind. However, this doesn’t affect them much as they dwell in dark burrows so they wouldn’t be able to see anyway. They are able to sense the world through touch and smell, though.
The only thermoconformer animal in the world, naked mole rat’s body temperature tracks ambient temperature. It is almost entirely ectothermic (cold-blooded) in the way it regulates body temperature. When they feel cold, they huddle together or seek shallow regions of the burrows that are sunwarmed. On the contrary, naked mole-rats get inside the deeper, cooler parts of the burrows when they feel too warm.
The record-holding rodents are the longest living rodents that live more than 6 times than other rodents. With an unusually long life span of 30 years, increased DNA repair facilitates and resistance to oxidative stress greater longevity in them.
The naked mole rat’s skin lacks a crucial neurotransmitter called substance P which sends pain signals to central nervous system (CNS) in most of the mammals. when exposed to acid or capsaicin, they don’t feel any pain.
While for most mammals, the mortality rates increase with aging. That’s not true for naked mole rats. Defying the biological law of aging ‘Gompertz Law’, naked mole rats’ aging is not a factor for mortality rates.
The research team at University of Rochester discovered in a study that the naked mole-rats have ribosomes that produce extremely error-free proteins.
Naked mole rat happens to be the first mammal that exhibits eusociality. This eusocial structure has resemblance to that found in termites, ants and some bees and wasps. Only one female (the queen) and one to three males reproduce, whereas the other members of the colony act as workers.
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