Naked Mole-Rats May be Immune to Aging

There are a rare few species that can apparently dodge the effects of aging. Jellyfish are, quite famous examples, as are some trees and tortoises, but now we may need to add the naked mole-rat to that list.

Bizarre as they are, a new study shows that mole-rats might not succumb to age-related diseases, at least for far longer than you’d expect given their small size. Many rodents live out their lives in a few short years. But the study followed 3,000 mole-rats of varying ages for years. After taking detailed records of the population, the scientists noted that their death rate didn’t increase as the rats got older.

Age-related diseases like cancer, also didn’t show up any more often as the mole-rats ages. Even more surprising, the oldest rats were still more than capable of reproduction with females not exhibiting any signs of menopause — another major departure from other small mammals.

“This is the first mammal in which there is a lack of intrinsic mortality with increasing age,” study author Rochelle Buffenstein told Gizmodo.

Scientists have known that mole-rats are prodigiously healthy for years, suspecting that they are the only species to successfully interbreed themselves out of many of their diseases. Over three decades covered by the study, fewer than one-sixth died of natural causes.

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