2019-04-12 / Commentary

Naked Mole Rats

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

Offering full disclosure, I must admit when I originally hit the button on my remote, I thought I was recording Naked Mall Rats, which I assumed was an 80s dramady featuring Catherine Mary Stewart, Mary Stuart Masterson, Phoebe Cates, and one of the Coreys.

My father used to drive his old Chevy on Saturday mornings to “blow the soot from the carburetor.” I think he just wanted an excuse to drive fast without my mom along. Carbs have disappeared but some older guys get the same effect watching certain types of movies. Cleaning out the soot. Innocent fun until someone loses half his stuff.

Imagine my surprise when I realized I had DVRd Naked Mole Rats, a scientific documentary about a weird species of animal that seems to have aging figured out. Originally thought to be a freak of another species, and unfortunately named Sabre Tooth Sausage, the naked mole rat is neither mole nor rat.

A relative of the porcupine and chinchilla, this little guy is most definitely naked, and becoming the star of many animal research projects, especially those that study human longevity.

Naked mole rats have a queen dominant hierarchy and work as a unit to assure survival for the entire colony. A society that dates back millions of years to our ancestors, featuring a civilization that expects everyone to do their part and contribute to the overall good of society—or socialism— depending on your politics.

The main thing these little guys offer modern man is the possibility they know how to not only live a long, long time, but do it without bothersome things like cardiovascular disease, loss of muscle mass, cancer, and wasting away in Nursing Home Ville. They have also figured out how to adjust to a changing environment around them. Humans can’t even agree if our environment is changing.

A Russian scientist working in Rochester, New York, sounding eerily reminiscent of Natasha, the Commie spy from the Bullwinkle cartoon many men my age remember fondly, was a lead contributor to this documentary. If you aren’t aware of Natasha, search the internet. And be sympathetic.

In the days when I was young, life was very different. We didn’t have smart cars, smart appliances, or watches to inform us when we got fat. We only had three channels of television to watch and couldn’t record anything if we were to find anything worth our time. We even had to add columns of numbers the old fashioned way. So give us a break about Natasha. The only other exotic female fantasy for young boys then was Emma Peel.

Anyway, Naked Mole Rats live a long time, don’t succumb to old people diseases like every other mammal on Earth, and handle captivity quite nicely, which makes them easy to study. So in a few years, too many for me, maybe in time for some of you, we’ll see advances in gene pool science and be able to combat the kinds of things that make living to a ripe old age objectionable today. Unless the planet warms to unacceptable levels, we starve, or run out of water.

Or get mad and blow each other up.

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