An Animal That Can’t Feel the Burn

At one time or another we have all experienced some type of burning feeling.  Maybe it was when we touched a hot stove, sipped a scalding drink, stayed out in the sun too long, or played with fire.  Sometimes we even feel burning sensations when we eat spicy food.  Whatever the cause, the burning feeling is no fun at all.  For this reason, scientists were especially curious when they discovered an animal that doesn’t feel certain burning sensations.  This animal is the naked mole rat.

Several years ago, researchers accidentally discovered naked mole rats didn’t have something called “substance P.”  To put it simply, substance P is a compound that sends signals of burning pain in our nerves.  Since naked mole rats don’t have substance P, they don’t feel pain from burns but will from other injuries.  For example, they feel pain from pinching, prodding, and other physical injuries, but can’t feel pain from acid or the burning sensation from chili peppers (BioEdOnline.org).

What makes this ability especially interesting is the fact that naked mole rats live in underground boroughs with high levels of carbon dioxide.  Living in places with high levels of carbon dioxide (as high as 10%) causes acid to build up inside the body tissue and is painful for most animals.  If the air we breathed comprised of just 5% carbon dioxide, we would feel a “sharp, burning, stinging sensation in our eyes and nose” (LiveScience.com, “Immune”).  In other words, the naked mole rat is designed specifically to live in places with high carbon dioxide without feeling any pain. 

Not only are there high levels of carbon dioxide inside the boroughs, but often very low levels of oxygen as well.  If we breathed the same oxygen levels as the naked mole rat we would quickly sustain brain damage (LiveScience.com, “Oxygen”).  The reason they are able to live in such terrible air conditions is because they breathe less frequently and use about a third less oxygen than other small animals like mice.  This gives the naked mole rat the ability to function more than six times longer with low levels of oxygen than mice and other animals (ibid).

Even though they aren’t much to look at, naked mole rats are some of the most incredible animals on earth.  It’s clear that these little rodents were perfectly made to survive in some of the worst air conditions.  With so many complex and unique characteristics, we have to ask how they could have evolved these abilities?  Evolution simply does not offer specific answers and clear facts.  Naked mole rats, like many other animals on the earth, prove that God planned, designed, molded, and created everything.

Not only do the words of Nehemiah 9:5-6 speak the truth about creation, but they also tell us what our response should be: “Arise, bless the Lord your God forever and ever!  O may Your glorious name be blessed
 and exalted above all blessing and praise!  You alone are the Lord.  You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.  You give life to all of them 
and the heavenly host bows down before You.”

May we always praise and glorify God, the Designer and Lord of all creation!