Once upon a time, Eric "Dufoxy" Dufault, Ryan “The Disembowler” Dowler and Jen Silverman were sitting over a manly feast of beers and wings. As Youngbloods do when presented with time on their hands, they set about discussing world politics. Then they moved on to a careful dissection of the place of religion in a modern world. Then—and only then— did they inadvertently stumble across a subject that was TRULY CONTROVERSIAL.
They lowered their voices to whispers. They shot glances over their shoulders. They tried to conduct the conversation in pig-Latin, to throw eavesdroppers off the scent, but ‘twas too late. The Most Controversial Conversational Topic of Modern Times had been unleashed and there was no going back. They had entered the topic of NAKED MOLE RATS.
“The most adorable and mysterious creatures on earth!” Silverman declared.
“More disgusting than a bucket of penises,” Dufoxy countered.
“My dad discovered a new form of mouse one time,” Dowler extemporized.
And they were off.
JEN: Whoa whoa whoa, Dufoxy. Hold your horses. Reign in your seething venom. Here is the case for naked mole rats. First of all, they are cute. There is nothing cuter than a semi-transparent sack of skin through which you can almost see internal organs shifting around. Additionally, I invite you to gaze upon their protruding front teeth. Their delicate little paws. The wonder in their blind little eyes. Does none of this move your stony heart?
Look, I find naked mole rats as interesting as the next person. But damn if those things are not ugly. Come on, Jen. We need more honesty and genuineness in the world. And the honest, genuine truth is that an elderly man would have a very hard time distinguishing a naked mole rat from his penis.
Now, I’d like this to be a family friendly environment. But look at this. Look at this terror. It looks like a penis being devoured by smaller penises.
Let’s do a Rorschach thing here, Jen. What do you see when you look at that photo?
JEN: I see a visual representation of unfounded fear, Dufoxy. I see a living metaphor for the misunderstood, the societal Other, the monsterization of that which is different. I see an awesome thesis topic for a fully-funded PhD that could rescue me from the streets and give me health insurance once again!
Now, I don’t want to challenge the values upon which the American nuclear family is based, but “semi-transparent sack of skin” is an apt description of babies as well. And generally, one thinks babies are cute and one tries VERY HARD not to mention the words “baby” and “penis” in the same sentence. So let’s try giving NMR the same consideration. Just for a second. And consider other instances of how miraculous they are.
For example, according to the Smithsonian blog:
1. NMRs are neither moles nor rats. They are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs. (WHO DOESN’T LOVE A PORCUPINE?? – Dufoxy, do not start with me.)
2. They are one of only two mammal species that are eusocial. (Hive-minded, like bees and wasps. BEES MAKE HONEY, WHO DOESN’T LOVE HONEY?)
3. The queen isn’t born a queen. She’s a female who has fought her way to the top. (WHO DOESN’T LOVE FEMINISM??)
And finally: No one has ever found cancer in naked mole rats; they appear to be resistant to the disease. (Like green tea, dark chocolate, and coffee: who doesn’t love anti-oxidants??)
BAM. I heart you, little porcu-wasps.
Clearly, there’s some weird, interesting shit going down with these freaks. They can’t get cancer (though I wish they could). They’re the only cold blooded mammal (which means that they're supposed to be, like, lizards or something?). They’re called the “sand puppy” (which is an insult to both puppies and sand). But we’re not interested in interesting, Jen. This, like everything else in life, all comes down to cuteness.
What is cuteness? I don’t know. Do you know who does know? Wikipedia. Which is why they have diagrams like this to help us with this debate:
Babies are biologically cute so that their mothers/fathers won’t eat them. And what makes them cute? A) A large head/body ratio and B) a large eye to head ratio. So the cutest creature would be an animal that’s all head and eyes. Now how about naked mole rats? A) Do those things have large heads compared to their bodies? And B) Do they have large eyes compared to their heads?
In closing, I would like to share this image of a naked mole rat’s penis:
RYAN DOWLER: My father journeyed over volcanoes in the Galapagos Islands to rediscover a rodent thought to be extinct for a hundred years.
I can’t even write a decent Sloan grant.
I can’t even write a decent Sloan grant.
....And with that, ladies and gentlemen, the case is closed.