Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Naked mole rats have particularly perky proteins, yay!

One of the weirdest dreams I've had in recent years featured a children's book with a cartoonish cover in hot pink decorated with sparkly stuff called "Billie, Stefan and the Naked Mole Rat."

Honi soit qui mal y pense. We don't do Freudian dream analysis in this house anymore.

The dream was so vivid it felt more like a memory, and immediately on getting out of bed I embarked upon a deep online search for a book which - for about two waking hours - I was convinced I had read at one point of my life.

'Course I didn't find the book - it had been a figment of my imagination, after all. My great brain, having nowt better to do, made it all up.

Ever since then, the naked mole rat has had a particular place in our personal mythology, ugly as hell though it is.


And this is why I was happy to learn today via Der Spiegel that the amazing longevity of the naked mole rat is down to the species's unusually stable proteins. These hideous creatures can live to thirty years in their underground burrows, doing whatever it is naked mole rats are doing and not get bored for a second.

Which is more than can be said about many human beings I know.

1 comment:

Geoff Coupe said...

I think you've probably hit upon a gap in the children's book market. I look forward to the publication of your book, and will certainly purchase a copy to add to my collection of children's books. It will take pride of place next to Harvey Fierstein's "The Sissy Duckling"...

Mind you, Heterocephalus glaber is a fascinating animal. I particularly recommend Gray Lyons' web page: "Assorted Interesting Facts About the Naked Mole Rat"
http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2004/lyons/Facts.html