Naked mole-rat

Naked mole-rat
Temporal range: Early Pliocene - Recent
Nacktmull.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Rodentia
Family:Heterocephalidae
Landry, 1957; Patterson, 2014
Genus:Heterocephalus
Rüppell, 1842[2]
Species:H. glaber
Binomial name
Heterocephalus glaber
Heterocephalus glaber dis.png
Distribution of the naked mole-rat

The naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), also known as the sand puppy,[3] is a burrowing rodent native to parts of East Africa. It is closely related to the blesmols and is the only species in the genus Heterocephalus of the family Heterocephalidae.[4] The naked mole-rat and the Damaraland mole-rat (Fukomys damarensis)[5][6] are the only known eusocial mammals, the highest classification of sociality. It has a highly unusual set of physical traits that allow it to thrive in a harsh underground environment and is the only mammalian thermoconformer, almost entirely ectothermic (cold-blooded) in how it regulates body temperature.[7]

The naked-mole rat lacks pain sensitivity in its skin, and has very low metabolic and respiratory rates. While formerly considered to belong to the same family as other African mole-rats, Bathyergidae, more recent investigation places it in a separate family, Heterocephalidae.[8][9][10]The naked mole-rat is also remarkable for its longevity and its resistance to cancer and oxygen deprivation.

Description

Typical individuals are 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in) long and weigh 30 to 35 grams (1.1 to 1.2 oz). Queens are larger and may weigh well over 50 grams (1.8 oz), the largest reaching 80 grams (2.8 oz). They are well-adapted to their underground existence. Their eyes are quite small, and their visual acuity is poor. Their legs are thin and short; however, they are highly adept at moving underground and can move backward as fast as they can move forward. Their large, protruding teeth are used to dig and their lips are sealed just behind the teeth, preventing soil from filling their mouths while digging.[11] About a quarter of their musculature is used in the closing of their jaws while they dig—about the same proportion that is utilized in the human leg.[citation needed] They have little hair (hence the common name) and wrinkled pink or yellowish skin. They lack an insulating layer in the skin.

Its karyotype has 2n = 60.[4]

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