The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat

Naked mole rat in a zoo.

Naked mole rat in a zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are some strange creatures around.  You have to wonder what is their role in the evolution of life on earth.

Rat-Race

When all is lost
who’s the new kid on the block?
Who rocks, rolls, rules earth’s barren waste,
devastated by climate change?
Strange.
Imagine a world run by rats.
Fantasy?  No.
Reality?  Maybe.
Possibility?  Yes.
It’s anyone’s guess what the future will bring
but here’s the thing,
the thing that we know,
climatic change is on the go
ushering a future with CO2 high
and oxygen oh so low.
We can’t survive in such a space.
Say goodbye to the human race.
What creature alive could take our place?
The answer’s a RAT,
but not just any ordinary rat ………

Blind as bats,
ugly as toads,
naked as chicks,
what secret mix of genes they hold.
Have they mutated?
Are they raked with disease?
Or have they seized the day and evolved
into creatures that don’t grow old?
They inhabit the dark,
marked with their chopstick teeth
they twitter like baby birds
and it’s weird that they feel no pain
and again that they have cancer controlled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eusocial, no sexual drive,
their home’s like a hive,
one queen alive
with several mates –
that’s all it takes to propagate
and the workers all do as they’re told.
They survive underground;
little oxygen’s found,
carbon dioxide abounds
but they scurry around –
that’s the power they hold.
When the upper world’s dead,
they’ll still be alive,
they’ll emerge and survive,
naked mole-rats now rulers instead.

13th July 2013 – headline from the Guardian

Notes:  “The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat.”  They behave like ants and can live for more than 30 years, but what’s really captured the imagination of scientists is the fact that naked mole rats don’t get cancer.  Their physical traits appear to be linked to the particular series of adaptations that the animals had made to their extremely harsh underground environment – the ability to breathe in low oxygen/high CO2 atmospheres that would kill a human, as well as the evolved ability to suppress pain in their skin.

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