Naked mole-rats: The mammals that can survive without oxygen

A study found that naked mole-rats can switch to a metabolic system that doesn't require oxygen.

Story highlights

  • Naked mole-rats survived without oxygen for 18 minutes and recovered fully, one study shows
  • They use a plant-like method of creating energy without the need for oxygen

(CNN)One of the world's most bizarre and remarkable animals is surprising scientists once again.

The naked mole rat is already known to be cold-blooded, resistant to cancer and feeling pain, and can live ten times longer than a mouse. The animal is also one of the strangest-looking mammals on the planet.
But now scientists believe these odd creatures can also survive without oxygen, by using a different method of creating energy in their bodies.
    "Naked mole-rats are very social animals and typically live in underground colonies of up to 200 in East Africa," Gary Lewin of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine told CNN. Lewin co-led the study published Friday in Science.
    With so many animals crowded into such a small living space -- all of them taking in oxygen and producing carbon dioxide -- they are used to oxygen-deprived environments, Le