The eusocial naked mole rats sleep in closely related family groups.
Image: University of Pennsylvania
Naked mole rats won't win any beauty contests but it seems they may for quality of life and longevity. A new report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (subscription required) has shown that they live nine times longer than other rodents.
According to Science Daily:
“Naked mole rats don’t show the usual deterioration of aging, such as menopause or decline in brain function,” said paper co-author Rochelle Buffenstein, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the Barshop Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on aging in naked mole rats. “They demonstrate a healthy longevity that all of us would like to emulate.”In a rare case of eusociality among mammals (the form of cooperation shown in bees, ants and termites) naked mole rats show a genetic relatedness as high as 70%. While one would expect a greater level of inbreeding depression as a result of recessive deleterious alleles, naked mole rats are remarkably fit and this latest study only confirms this.
I'm left to wonder how much their sociality influences this increase in longevity. Since stress is one of the primary causes of deterioration in health, perhaps this unique form of cooperation is behind their more efficient removal of damaged proteins.