This thing is so freaking ugly, I'm going to wind up having nightmares again.
As vulnerable as naked mole rats seem, researchers now find the hairless, bucktoothed rodents are invulnerable to the pain of acid and the sting of chili peppers.
A better understanding of pain resistance in these sausage-like creatures could lead to new drugs for people with chronic pain, scientists added.
Naked mole rats live in cramped, oxygen-starved burrows some six feet underground in central East Africa. Unusually, they are cold-blooded — which, as far as anyone knows, is unique among mammals.
"They're the nicest, sweetest animals I've ever worked with — they look frightening, but they're very gentle," said neurobiologist Thomas Park at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Scientists knew the mole rats were quite sensitive to touch — perhaps to help replace their almost useless eyes. After probing their skin, Park and his colleagues unexpectedly discovered the rodents lacked the chemical Substance P, which causes the feeling of burning pain in mammals.
Interesting article, and I certainly hope their research will lend to aiding those with chronic pain...but, my God, that poor little thing is nasty lookin'.