Saturday, May 08, 2010

eew, naked mole rat!

naked mole rat, oregon zoo

A naked mole rat at the zoo. Kind of an odd pose, but I did see it move, so maybe it was just pining for the fjords or something.

I realize they're highly unusual animals with a hive-like social structure, and it's fascinating how this behavior evolved independently multiple times in the animal kingdom. Although it's hard to think about that for too long without being reminded of Frank Herbert's creepy Hellstrom's Hive. Set right here in Oregon, too.

I often wonder, though, whether the zoo keeps naked mole rats around because they're pretty much the ultimate gross-out animal, something to keep bus loads of 8 year old boys entertained on field trips. I mean, I suppose it's practical to have a gross-out animal like this. It's not like you can get 8 year old boys to sit quietly in the aviary and watch the colorful birds. Even I wouldn't have done that at age 8. And maybe one kid in a hundred or so will be enthralled and grow up to be a zoologist, or maybe a horror film director. So maybe that's the zoo's educational mission at work, I dunno.

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