Naked mole rats defy laws of life and death

Rats just got even creepier.

As if these rodents aren’t awful enough to begin with, some of them appear to be age-proof.

So say scientists studying naked mole rats, cold-blooded, hairless and nearly blind mammals that look like deflated, wrinkly pink balloons.

If balloons had protruding teeth.

The animals live underground and thrive in deserts of East Africa and have previously been shown to be immune to cancer and pain.

Super rats, basically.

7 PHOTOS
Naked mole rats
See Gallery
Naked mole rats
Four naked mole-rats are seen in a University of Illinois at Chicago laboratory in an undated photo released April 20, 2017. Courtesy of Thomas Park/UIC/Handout via REUTERSTHIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSFOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Thomas Park, professor of biology, holds a naked mole rat at his research laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, December 9, 2009. (Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
Thomas Park, left, professor of biology, and John Larson, associate professor of physiology, conduct research with naked mole rats in a laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, December 9, 2009. (Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
IMG_5748
A naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber).
Litter of african mole rat naked.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Now researchers from Google’s research and development company Calico have found that the sand puppies — as they’re also called — can also cheat death, according to a study in the journal eLife.

While humans and other mammals conform to scientific mortality laws by experiencing an exponentially increasing risk of death as they get older, naked mole rats “defy” the laws.

Humans’ chances of dying roughly doubles each year after 30. Other mammals’ odds increase too. But mole rats odds of dying don’t increase as they get older.

“Their risk of death does not increase even at 25 times past their time to reproductive maturity,” researchers note.

Findings are based on meticulously studying the records of more than 3,200 naked mole rats. The naked mole rats’ expected lifespan in a lab is about 6 years. But some live to be over 30 years old, and even remain able to breed.

Researchers suggest that these rats transcend everything they know about mammalian biology makes them an “exceptional model” to “further our understanding of the biological mechanisms of longevity.”

Read Full Story