Put some clothes on for crying out loud – you’re embarrassing yourself!
Is it difficult to maintain a positive self-image when you’re a bald phallic-looking rodent? What are the mental health implications of looking so grotesque? Are there hoards of Naked Mole Rats lying on little psychologists couches discussing their low self-esteem? I hope not, because I think you’re terrific! In fact, I have voted you ‘best rodent on ground’ for National Biodiversity Month and I’ve made it my personal mission to educate everyone on the wonder that is the Naked Mole Rat.
While many regard you as the ugliest freak of the animal kingdom, I hold you up as a shinning example of evolutionary genius!
It’s true that aesthetically you’re not so easy on the eye – but who cares! You live underground and your species is legally blind. Which is just as well, considering you have giant cheese-yellow buckteeth growing directly through the skin of your upper lip. No amount of dental bleaching could fix that.
But from a biological perspective you’re a genetic marvel. Traits including extraordinary longevity and the ability to avoid cancerous tumors are qualities that set you apart from more ‘pedestrian’ rodents – like that common mouse. In fact, you live 20 times longer and maintain near-perfect muscle structure into old age. Maybe you hold the key to the fountain of youth? I can just see it now, the housewives of NY asking you out for a cocktail to get the dirt on stopping the aging process. Surely you’ll get a segment on the Oprah Winfrey show?
Not only do the desperate housewives of America adore you; the Royal Family also reveres your anti-republican values. In fact you’re such a staunch advocate for the monarchy that you setup your own underground ‘Queendom’. Perhaps you took it a step too far, by nominating yourself as the single breeding queen and choosing the best-looking males to help populate the colony. To cap it off, you suppress the reproductive instinct of 99% of the other Naked Mole Rats then deploy them as obedient slaves.
Scientists are intrigued with this social organisation as they have only seen ‘eusocial’ behavior in insect colonies like those of ants and termites. Although your distant Meerkat relative practices a less regimented version, you are considered truly unique. Have you thought about piloting a new TV series called ‘Naked Mole Mate Manner’? (Maybe that would work better on radio)
Another feather in your genetic cap is the ability to suppress physical pain. Scientists have found that the pain signal passing through your nociceptors are so weak that your brain cannot detect pain. They say this is a result of an evolutionary adaptation to living in extremely harsh underground environments. You have the ability to breathe in low oxygen/high CO2 atmospheres that would kill a human. I do hope the ability to block pain extends to emotional pain considering others have labeled you the ugliest animal on Earth.
As we celebrate Biodiversity Month I hope Naked Mole Rats everywhere can shake off the ugly stigma and be known for your unique evolutionary traits. I know I will be holding you up as a shining example of how truly diverse our amazing natural world can be.
Biodiversity Month is held in September each year and aims to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biodiversity both within Australia and across the world.
Learn more here about sustainability month here: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/month.html
Find plenty of FREE lesson plans, activities and resources here: http://coolaustralia.org/curriculum-materials/