What's ugly, has a tail and holds the secret to eternal youth? Meet the naked mole rat
Scientists have long searched for an elixir to eternal youth.
But it's unlikely they thought it would come in the shape of the naked mole rat.
The animal is revolting looking - bald and wrinkly with worm-like tails and walrus-style teeth - but healthy.
These East African animals live for 30 years, seven times longer than a normal rat, and they seem to be immune to cancer.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool have just finished mapping the mole rat’s genome structure for the first time, in the hope of understanding what keeps them so healthy.
Lead scientist Dr Joao Magalhaes said: ‘The level of resistance these animals have to disease, particularly cancer, might give us clues as to why some creatures are more prone to disease than others.
'We want to establish the naked mole rat as the first model of resistance to chronic diseases of ageing.’
All good, so long as they can promise we don’t end up looking like the beast.
Nothing’s worth that - even living for ever.