It’s been over 30 years since scientists sequenced the first genome—that of a particular bacteria-infecting virus called bacteriophage fX174—and they've only gotten better at it since then. Many of the genomes that researchers have chosen to map are obvious choices, like disease-causing bacteria, but some might surprise you. Here are a few of the interesting genomes scientists have sequenced, starting with one of the most recent: the naked mole rat.
The naked mole rat is a remarkable creature—OK, it’s downright freaky—that’s said to look like a penis with teeth. They live entirely in underground tunnels and never see the sun; have long life spans for their size (30 years compared to a common rat’s 4 years); feel no pain in their skin; survive and thrive in oxygen-poor environments; and are resistant to strokes and a number of diseases, cancer included. Last week, a research consortium posted the draft sequence of the naked mole rat’s genome online; further study may unlock the genetic clues to this unique animal’s survival abilities.