Naked Mole Rats Sort of Don’t Age

naked-mole-ratIt was already known that these adorable critters tend to live ten times as long as other mammals of their size.

What is more surprising is that according to a new study funded by Calico, Google’s life extension research branch, they seem to defy the Gompertz Law outright (i.e., the tendency of mortality to increase with age). Consequently, their life expectancy in controlled environments might be far higher even than the oft stated 35 years.

This seems to be pretty remarkable, since although there is a wide diversity of ageing/mortality patterns across the tree of life, outright defiance of the Gompertz Law was thought to be limited to the really primitive creatures, like hydra.



This is encouraging for a couple of reasons.

  1. Calico is an infamously secretive company that has hovered up a substantial fraction of the world’s ageing experts. At least this is confirmation that it’s still doing work on those lines instead of just more pharmacological money-grubbing.

  2. It has long seemed to me that radical IQ augmentation would be easier than radical life extension, since the range of human genetic variation is far greater in the former (an IQ of 175 is cardinally different from 100 in a way that a life expectancy of 120 years is not cardinally different from 80), while the only animals that had really “solved” the ageing problem were presumably too primitive to provide ideas for human longevity. Naked mole rats at least prove that indefinitely extended lifespans are feasible in mammals.


  1. How about that stunning election upset today – the Czech voters quite surprising even AK’s expectations of the other week – with the re-election victory of Czech President Miloš Zeman (that mark makes the first name sound like ‘Milosh’)

    Tho there are complexities, this overall was a vote for traditional European cultural values against the SJW-type shite-lib pozzing mentality … And as with the Trump victory, it was a ‘surprise’, with the conventional view being that the opposing ‘modern liberal technocrat’ candidate Jiří Drahoš, had the election in the bag via all the ‘modern city people’ supposedly eager to vote against the occasionally over-drinking President Zeman

    Talking to Czechs today, it seemed that there was, in the end, quite a surge of anti-poz-instinct even amongst young Czech urbanites etc … plus the tipsy Zeman is a character Czechs enjoy, Czechs often feeling as if he is their symbolic national uncle … Zeman’s favoured drink, Czech herbal hard tipple Becherovka, is quite tasty and worth trying if you come across it … plus good for stomach ailments

    President Zeman speaking on the ‘Trojan Horse Migrant Wave Invasion’ of Europe:

    Speaking of ‘Trojan Horses’, here’s one in the form of a huge Mexican piñata … a ploy to defeat Trump’s upcoming border wall?

  2. German_reader says

    They seem to be rather special animals (for mammals) anyway, with their ant-like eusociality, I hadn’t known something like this existed. Intriguing, thanks for bringing that to our attention.

  3. It’s all about fixing the cancer (most likely failure mode of a system composed of locally managed self-reproducing subunits, I would think):

    A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer

    OT but WTF is this about:

    Lesin, a former press minister and ex-head of Gazprom-Media, Russia’s largest media holding, was found dead in DC’s Dupont Hotel on November 4, 2015. Initial reports claimed that the mass media expert, credited with inspiring the creation of Russia Today (now RT), died of a heart attack.

    Later in 2016 the District of Colombia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) and Metropolitan Police Department said that “blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities and lower extremities” contributed to Lesin’s death. “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has released the cause and manner of death for Mikhail Lesin… Cause of Death: blunt force injuries of the head,” the statement said.

    In October 2016, the US authorities announced that Lesin died of natural causes and closed the case. “Based on the evidence, including video footage and witness interviews, Mr. Lesin entered his hotel room on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, after days of excessive consumption of alcohol and sustained the injuries that resulted in his death while alone in his hotel room,” the US attorney for the District of Columbia said in a statement.

  4. I agree that radical IQ augmentation is easier than radical life extension. That said, though, if we will be able to make the average life expectancy 120 years, wouldn’t we see a few people who make it way beyond that? I mean, if the average IQ will be 175, then there will surely be some people with IQs above 200 and maybe even above 250. Similarly, could raising the average life expectancy to 120 years result in some people reaching their 130s, 140s, 150s, and maybe even 160s?

  5. Assuming such technology is even desirable.
    “I really don’t know, I think I’ll lay off children ’till I’m 70 and settled down ok?”

  6. Doubt it will work that way – by optimizing for IQ and/or longevity through genetic editing, wouldn’t we be reducing genetic variation in those traits to near zero?

  7. @Anatoly Karlin: Yes, I would think that we would initially reduce genetic variation in those traits to near zero. However, people are then going to reproduce and their offspring and descendants might display greater genetic variation in those traits.

    I don’t know–maybe I am wrong about this, but isn’t there a certain amount of variation in the IQs that one’s children will have? I mean, if everyone has an IQ of 200, then the average IQ for their offspring will still be around 200 but–based on the chart here: –it would have a standard deviation of around 7.5 rather than zero. In turn, if this information is correct, 68% of children in this scenario would have an IQ of between 192.5 and 207.5 whereas 95% of children would have an IQ between 185 and 215 and 99.7% of children would have an IQ between 177.5 and 222.5–thus having around 0.15% of children have an IQ below 177.5 and another 0.15% of children having an IQ above 222.5.

    Afterwards, you would look at the genes of the children with an IQ above 222.5 and engage in large-scale gene editing to make that the new average. Then, once these people will reproduce, a new genetic variation in IQ will emerge.

    Anyway, I am completely off here?

  8. Think of it this way–if a couple where both people have an IQ of 115 reproduce and have dozens of children, then the variation in their children’s IQs is very likely going to be greater than the variation in their own IQs.

  9. reiner Tor says

    Some environmental (actually, random) variation will remain, which will be probably a quarter of the variance that is present today. Still, currently there are just very few people hitting the genetic jackpot, and since only a few of those will also hit the random jackpot (education, parenting, etc. have roughly zero effect), and since geniuses need a certain amount of luck (as well as other factors like motivation, determination, toughness, etc.), and it might be multiplied by the effects of networking among them as they reach critical densities, it’s likely that there could come an abundance of geniuses never seen before.

    At least, that’s what we hope for. Some factors might be overlooked, which could cancel out the effects. Like very high IQ individuals being nothing special, or needing inputs from stupid people, etc. I doubt it, but it’s possible.

    I once read a sci-fi about a planet where they used IQ augmentation, but it had side effects which significantly worsened over the years. When a non-augmented scientist tried to make a point to his augmented colleagues and cited some rounded numbers, the augmented colleagues started nitpicking over the rounding error (“it’s not 500,000,000, it’s 487,549,777.6654”), and questioned his competence if he didn’t know even such a simple number off the top of his head. Eventually his main argument got lost. (Of course it sounds implausible that such a technology would get widely implemented without being properly tested.)

  10. reiner Tor says

    Because they have different mutational load. With everyone optimized, the mutational load for both parents will be zero, so the children will inherit the exact same genes.