Long-lived mole rats

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - SKIN -

It makes sense that if you want to live on the re­lent­lessly hot African sa­van­nah, then you’re go­ing to need some spe­cialised skin adap­ta­tions. But if you live un­der it, your skin still needs to be pretty spe­cial. Naked mole rats have in­cred­i­bly loose skin, which pre­vents snag­ging on roots and sharp rocks. It con­tains a com­pound called hyaluro­nan (known more fa­mil­iarly as hyaluronic acid), which not only makes the skin nice and stretchy but dras­ti­cally re­duces the in­ci­dence of can­cer in these lit­tle ro­dents: they can live up to 10 times longer than other, sim­i­lar-sized ro­dents. Re­searchers are ex­plor­ing how these nearly hair­less mam­mals may help us to un­der­stand age­ing and dis­ease re­sis­tance in hu­mans.

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