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Fascinating and Strange

Naked Mole Rats
Originally uploaded by meshmar2.

The naked mole rat, Heterocephalus glaber, not only looks weird, it has a very unusual lifestyle. Mole rats live in colonies organized like ant or bee colonies, with a queen, workers and a few breeding males.

Lisa Conti of Today in Mice, a very interesting blog published by Miller McCune, reports on research by Nancy Forger of the University of Mass.

Forger thinks oxytocin may be the bonding force in these underground societies.

The finding that most intrigued the team was a heavy oxytocin signal in a region of the brain involved with pleasure, the nucleus accumbens. Located toward the front of the brain, the nucleus accumbens has been implicated in reward, motivation and addiction. Interestingly, similar data exists for the monogamous prairie vole, but for no other rodents species studied.