Naked mole rats have intrigued scientists for years.
They are virtually hairless, cold-blooded and, until recently, were thought to be immune to cancer.
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And now, researchers have discovered they can go without oxygen for as long as 18 MINUTES, as they burrow in low-circulated lairs under ground, Thomas Park, at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said in a Science article Thursday.
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“Mole rats are a bit like hybrid cars in that they switch one form of energy metabolism for another,” the NY Times reports. “Generally, they can run their cells on glucose, the usual way of mice, humans and all other mammals. That process requires oxygen, which is the whole point of breathing. But mole rats can switch to a different kind of biochemical process that uses fructose — the sugar found in fruit and high fructose corn syrup — and that doesn’t need oxygen at all.”
In this video, the strange creatures cavort in cages, their buck teeth flaring, as they climb over one another in a curious fashion. At one point, a scientist even picks one up for further (yuck!) investigation.