The naked mole rat, a species known for its high resistance to cancer, just revealed yet another interesting feature. This tiny animal seems to be able to survive without any oxygen.
A study paper on the matter was released earlier this week in the Science journal. The research team behind it went to take a closer look at the African naked mole rat as it is famous for its oddities. For example, although they are mammals, mole rats are cold-blooded, besides also being hairless ground-dwellers.
Now, according to the latest reports, the naked mole rat also seems to be able to survive in low or even no oxygen. However, only up to a point.
The Naked Mole Rat Developed Unusual Properties Based On Its Environment
This species is known to live in large social groups in the underground. As such, they are also used to breathing in low levels of oxygen and high ones of carbon dioxide. The latest research sought to determine if the animal also developed other methods of dealing with their environment.
For this, the scientists introduced mole rats in a specially designed chamber. This featured only a quarter of the amount of oxygen that we usually breathe or 5 percent. Then, they set to watch and rescue them in case of any sign of trouble. But none came, and the rats were slightly slower but still awake even 5 hours later.
Then, the team introduced 4 mole rats in a chamber with 0 percent oxygen. Although they passed out in around 30 seconds, the mole rats’ hearts kept on beating. Some 18 minutes later, as they were exposed to normal air, the specimens woke up and were up and about. Nonetheless, after a longer such period, 30 minutes, the mole rats involved in that phase died.
As the team kept track of its tiny animals, it noted that their blood fructose levels increase as they are oxygen deprived. A closer look showed that the naked mole rat is capable of switching from glucose to fructose as a fuel. Glucose needs oxygen to create energy, but fructose doesn’t.
The researchers stated that: “They’re [the naked mole rats] doing something that really has not been described before for any vertebrate animal. They’re basically using an alternative fuel.”
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