The genome sequence of the Honey Badger Mellivora capensis has been obtained and researchers suggest that contrary to the popular perception that the Honey Badger is uncaring and even hurtful, it appears that the Honey Badger has the largest number of Oxytocin Receptor Genes ever seen in a mammal, so genetically, it is likely to be the most caring animal in the world.
The Oxytocin Receptor Gene is known to be particularly involved in Trustworthiness and Caring in humans – what is known as the ‘prosocial condition’ – and variants of this gene correlate quite well with how much a person is valued by society.
It is not clear if the same genetic mechanisms that we see in Humans also apply to model organisms such as Honey Badgers. However, a key observation is that the genomes of people from Great Britain, in particular are very similar to the Honey Badger and British people such as Judy Dench and Kate Winslett are known for their gentle, caring and trustworthy dispositions.
“Obviously, we need to carry out more studies of the Honey Badger genome”, said Professor Nottalott, who led the study, “and in fact we have just initiated the “10,000 Honey Badger genomes” project, known as HB10K, which is to be funded by The Wellcome Trust. When we have these 10,000 genomes, we will be able to compare the behaviours of the individuals with their genome sequences. Unfortunately, we run the risk of driving the species to extinction with this study, but we are pretty sure there are enough mammals, without Honey Badgers”.
Funders, The Wellcome Trust said in a press release that they are particularly interested in the genetics of welcoming and trusting and the Honey Badgers are seen as key to our understanding of these traits.