Naked-mole rats aren’t the most renowned animal, however millennials the a specific age might have an enduring storage of them many thanks to the initiatives of one TV show: Kim Possible. This show is terrific for plenty of reasons (female empowerment, memorable villains, an excellent humor, etc.), yet I’d choose to emphasis on the positive attention it put on among the least appreciated mammals top top Earth: the naked-mole rat.

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Kim Possible’s sidekick, Ron Stoppable, had a pets naked-mole rat called Rufus. Naked-mole rats are actually among two eusocial mammals (the various other being the Damaraland mole-rat), which means they live in colonies with a queen and workers in a manner similar to ants, termites, and some bees and also wasps. Ron doesn’t seem too many outgoing, however I guess that provides sufficient social communication to sustain Rufus? they do get along really well.


The point I remember most about Rufus is the naked-mole rat song, officially dubbed the “Naked Mole Rap.” v some fire verses native Ron, strong background vocals, and Rufus’ ad libs, the tune is a bona fide bop in every sense of the word. I still randomly gain it stuck in my head to this day! and while naked-mole rats can’t actually sing or rap, a new file published in the journal Science shows that there’s much more going on with their vocalizations than we previously thought.

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Research led by Dr. Alison Barker has presented that separation, personal, instance naked-mole rats actually greet each other in their dark, underground tunnels using vocal calls the are distinct to the colony—basically, each swarm has its very own dialect, and also young naked-mole rats discover their colony’s speak to from older household members! what’s more, these “soft chirps” seem to be influenced by the colony’s queen; if a queen nude mole-rat died during the study, the dialect began to disintegrate and also become much less distinctive till a new queen emerged (after a queen dies, various other females fight because that the possibility to power in she place). What duty exactly the queen plays in preserving the dialect isn’t known yet, yet is an interesting question for future research!

Naked-mole rats are fascinating for numerous reasons: your eusocial lifestyle, their too much longevity (more than 30 years, the longest lifespan of any kind of rodent), their ability to survive a long time there is no oxygen (up come 18 minutes), and their resistance to cancer. This new file is just the start of what will surely be an exciting exploration right into naked-mole rat communication and cognition, which could even serve as a model for human being language acquisition and also evolution. The authors allude out that naked-mole rats make loads of other vocalizations besides the “soft chirps” they concentrated on, which way we deserve to all look front to many more studies unraveling how precisely these subterranean rodents speak to each other in their lightless homes. That knows, maybe we’ll even uncover out they can rap ~ all!

Reference: Barker, Alison J., et al. “Cultural infection of vocal language in the naked mole-rat.” Science 371.6528 (2021): 503-507.Darren Incorvaia can be followed on Twitter