Rodents are a large family of placental mammals that currently have more than 2,280 species. They are, without any doubt, the most numerous genus among mammals. In Supercurious we suggest that you accept us to know a Curious family of rodents: the Rat Topo. The mole rats live in sub-Saharan Africa and have points in common with other underground living rodents such as the tuco-tuco of South America or the gophers of North America.
Within it you will discover a kind of mole rat unique in its genre known as Rat Topo Calva, the animal that does not age. Its repulsive aspect, which is usually among the strongest candidates for The World's Ugliest Animal , it hides some peculiarities that make it different to all mammals ... If you want to discover it, do not stop reading!
The Topo Calva Rat, all about the animal that does not age
We all know what a rat is and also what a mole is, which perhaps many of us did not know is that there was a rodent that formed a genre of its own and popularly known as "mole rat." And, even less, that one of its species has particularities that make scientists say that it does not age.
1. What exactly is a Topo Rat?
The mole rats, whose official name is "Bathyergidae" is a family of excavator rodents that lives in Sub-Saharan Africa . Their underground way of life has evolved differently from other underground rodents. They resemble tops in that they have a tapered body and short extremities. They measure between 9 and 30 cm. and its weight varies from 30 gr. to 1,800 gr., according to the species.
Their sense of sight is very poor and sometimes they use their eyes to detect drafts. They have an excellent ear and smell, although their most developed sense is touch. Among the curious species of this family, the Heterocephalus glaber or Rata Topo bald which is part of a subfamily of this group called "Heterocephalinae" .
2. The Topo Calva Rat: a challenge to aging and death
The Topo Calva Rat, also called mole rat naked or hairless mole rat lives mainly in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Its main visible characteristic is the absence of hair that gives it a strange appearance. Is one of the only two species of eusocial vertebrates. This means that they function as a hive or anthill. There is a female and two or three fertile males and the rest are sterile, dividing between workers, who are looking for food, and soldiers, who are defending the network of tunnels that is their burrow.
It is the focus of study of many scientists for several peculiarities: its extraordinary longevity, its resistance to pain and that rarely get cancer. Biologist Rochelle Buffenstein has studied these animals for more than 30 years and has come to the conclusion that they defy the laws of longevity in mammals. Due to their size, they should live for about 6 years and in captivity they live more than 30 years, with the peculiarity that the breeding females are fertile even at that age.
The explanation to this phenomenon it seems to be in the DNA of the bald mole rat that has a very active repair, in addition to a high level of a protein called "chaperone" that helps other proteins bend correctly.
The study has detractors They state that it is not known what happened with many of the animals that were originally studied because they died accidentally or were transferred to other laboratories. Buffenstein responded to this criticism by saying that it has data of about 3,000 copies and that, if they age, this process is very slow. In his laboratory there are specimens that have exceeded 35 years.
3. Curious facts about the Topo Calva Rat
- The bald mole rat is considered in many places a plague since they consume tubers and roots.
- Another curiosity of the bald mole rat that makes it an extraordinary animal is that can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen and more than 5 hours in an environment with only 5% oxygen.
- Are insensitive to some types of pain because in the skin and skin fibers have a deficiency of "substance P" which is an undecapeptide related to the perception of pain.
- The metabolism of the bald mole rat is very similar to that of a cold-blooded animal.
- The bald mole rat, along with the mole rat of Damaraland are the only species of mammals that are eusocial (whose social organization is similar to that of ants or bees).
- It is believed that pheromones present in the urine of the rat mole queen render sterile to other females and to most males. When the queen dies, as there is no more urine, they become fertile and there is a fight to the death between the females to take their place.
- The column of the queen mole rat is one third longer than that of the other females . From the third birth a growth of space between the vertebrae of the end of the back takes place.
- The groups of bald mole rat that live together usually have between 75 and 80 individuals.
- The burrows reach between 3 and 5 km. of length.
- All the elements of the group are involved in the care of the young.
The bald mole rat is an extremely interesting mammal and many of its behaviors and physical characteristics are amazing. Did you know about the existence of the bald mole frog? Do you know other interesting facts about this special animal? If you want to know other peculiar animals, we invite you to read the post: Chimeric animals | 5 examples that will hallucinate you .