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African Naked Mole Rat

A close-up view of an African naked mole rat

A close-up view of an African naked mole rat.

Research by Thomas Park, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and supported by the National Science Foundation (grant IOS 07-44979) found that naked mole rats evolved so they could survive in an acidic environment that would not be tolerable by other mammals, including humans.

Carbon dioxide builds up to toxic levels in the tight and crowded burrows that mole rats call home, and the air becomes highly acidic. Park says the mole rat's tolerance to their toxic environment could offer clues to relieving pain in humans and other animals. For example, the lingering pain of an injury is caused by acidification of the injured tissue. Park says that studying an animal that feels no pain from an acidified environment could lead to new ways of alleviating pain in humans.

To learn more, see the UIC news story Naked Mole-rats May Hold Clues to Pain Relief. (Date of Image: May 2012)

Credit: Joshua Clark, UIC Photo
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