Joe saw dynasties rise and fall. He and his fellow colonies spent their years cleaning the nest, caring for the queen, and guarding against intruders as a designated worker or xenophobic soldiers. Most of them live relatively healthy lives. And because they live in deep desert burrows, mole rats have few natural predators.
and doeth kill a naked rat? “They beat each other,” said Martha Delaney, a veterinary pathologist at the University of Illinois. Naked rats are excessive xenophobes. They will attack the outsiders, push and bite each other, and expel the members of the colony as outcasts.
“They’re beautiful, beautiful animals,” Melissa Holmes said with complete sincerity. Holmes is a neuros behavioral scientist at the University of Toronto who works with more than 1,000 naked mole rats. The intricate functioning of the strange eusocial structure of mole rats has given them a reputation for aggression. “But for animals that live in a lot of groups, it’s very strong,” he said.
Holmes had his colonies for 12 years. “And in some of my colonies, we haven’t done any damage, since,” he said. “That’s amazing – that animals have lived together for so many years lacking in aggression.”
That’s not to say naked mole rats never get old or get sick. They did. Yet their bodies can somehow slow down the processes. While typical breast bones become more agile and thin over many years, the rat bones in the rat persist same mineral content and remain the same solid. People tend to be more obese with age. Naked rat rat? No.
“But the most bizarre system,” Buffenstein said, “is the cardiovascular.” Human nerves and arteries usually harden over time. The harder the walls are obtained, the harder it is to pump the heart. Increased blood pressure. Risk of death mosaka. Naked blood -sucking rats remained cold throughout life. “Every measure we look at of heart function hasn’t changed from six months to 24 years,” he said.
In humans, heart disease is the leading cause of death. Cancer is second. About 40 percent of U.S. people with cancer in their lives. For naked rats, the probability was below 1 percent. on a 2008 study, Buffenstein reported that there were no cancers in a group of 800 mole rats. As of 2021, Buffenstein said he has only found five cancers in more than 3,000 pits.
“They’re very good age,” Delaney said. “They’re very well adapted, like a physiological marvel.” Delaney primarily studied naked mole rats in zoos, scanned biopsies and tissue slices to find out how they died. He found a couple of cancers in two naked rats (“after examining hundreds and hundreds,” he said). Cancer is not fatal. Naked rats thrive kidney and brain injury of age, but those occasionally become ill.
This unexpected strength means that there may be something about their biology that we can get in pill form — or maybe one day as gene therapy — for humans. “And that’s why I think they’re so popular today,” Delaney said, “as research models not just in cancer, but in age -related diseases.” But popular or not, the true cost remains unknown.
Like scientists sort out what to tweak our biology to mimic the longevity of the rat rat. Getting cancer. Mole mice are so good at preventing cancer that researchers think their cells may be hardfired with protective molecules that stop mutated cells before they are replaced. For example, the naked seals of rats accumulate a large protein called p53, which is known to prevent tumors. Last year, Buffenstein reported that they showed up 10 times more of it in their connective tissue than in humans and mice – and they are much stronger.