Oct 18, 2011

Naked News

The naked mole rat has made many appearances on this blog, as is only proper. But there's nothing better than a news story that justifies revisiting these wrinkled, bucktoothed, grotesque creatures, and I've got two of them.

One is the announcement last week that scientists have published the entire genome of the naked mole rat. It took a team of 36 scientists on three continents, and you might wonder, why bother? But as this story from the Washington Post summarizes perfectly, their appearance is not the only thing that's unusual about these animals:

The upside is you live a ridiculously long and healthy life, can’t develop cancer, feel very little pain, never get lonely and have great skin right to the end.

The downside is you breathe stinky air, rarely go outside, tend to get cold, don’t see well, live in a monarchy and can’t count on having sex. (Also, you’re a naked mole rat.)

Scientists hope that information about how the mole rat works at a genetic level will be valuable for solving human health problems. (At least that's what they tell the newspapers; I'm willing to bet that they mostly did it because this animal is so incredibly freaking cool.)

The other bit of naked mole rat news is that today is the 20th anniversary of the arrival of naked mole rats at the National Zoo. I'm tickled to salute these particular mole rats since I have known them personally, but also because I realized that we have never posted a link to the National Zoo Naked Mole Rat Cam. I'm pleased to rectify that omission.

Check out more anniversary photos at the National Zoo's Flickr page.

-In increasingly wrinkly solidarity,
Wombat (No Relation)

1 comment:

Jack said...

what the hell is that?they look bad with fur,but badder without..

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