Although not known for their good looks, naked mole rats caught the eye of researcher Chris Faulkes 25 years ago. The creatures live for decades almost never surfacing from their underground homes, and they do not get cancer, something that makes them particularly interesting to researchers. The animals, native to the dry East African plains and first identified by 19th-century German naturalist Eduard Rüppell, breed like ants or termites with a single breeding queen. They also do not display many signs of aging seen in other species including vascular changes and loss of fecundity over years of breeding.

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