New in fascinating nature updates! Everyone’s favourite adorable wrinkly horror, the naked mole rat, has been found by scientists out of lifespan study company Calico Life Sciences LLC to defy everyone’s least favourite law of mortality, the Gompertz law. This means that naked mole rats do not age in a typical way. In addition to being a trippy addition to the already extraordinary list of cool attributes about this mammal, this fact could have an impact on human health.
Among the fun facts about naked mole rats: they spend their lives underground in eusocial colonies of up to 300 individuals, with a dominant female “queen” and just a few select male mole rats involved in breeding. They have evolved beyond the need to see very well and regulate their body temperatures. They are (almost) immune to cancer, and don’t seem to experience pain. And now:
“The team collected what they describe as 3,000 points of data regarding the lifespan of the naked mole rat, and found that many had lived for 30 years. But perhaps more surprisingly, they found that the chance of dying for the mole rats did not increase as they aged. All other mammals that have been studied have been found to conform to what is known as Gompertz’s mortality law, which states that the risk of death for a typical mammal grows exponentially after they reach sexual maturity — for humans, that means the odds of dying double every eight years after reaching age 30. This, the researchers claim, suggests that mole rats do not age — at least in the conventional sense. They do eventually die, after all.
The scientists involved in this study state that what “determines naked mole-rat lifespans in captivity [i.e. without predation skewing the numbers] is currently unknown,” and needs an awful lot more research. Given that investigation into the imperviousness of naked mole rats to pain has shed light on human congenital pain insensitivity, could that research lead to a greater understanding of human aging? Here’s hoping these sweet, kind of horrifying adorable little old men of the animal kingdom may soon let us in on more of their secrets!