This Might Be Your Only Chance To See Rare Mole

Posted: Jun 17 2016, 10:00am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


This Might Be Your Only Chance to See Rare Mole
Credit: Tjamu Tjamu Aboriginal Corporation

Last week, a few lucky people in Australia were fortunate enough to spot this beautiful golden marsupial mole above. It was one of its extremely rare expeditions above ground, but fortunately, they had the wherewithal to film it. 

Known as a karrkaratul, this tiny mole is only seen between five to ten times a decade, and it is almost never caught on camera. The video below is, without a doubt, your best chance to see this little guy in your lifetime, unless something miraculous happens within the next few decades.

But why are these creatures so rare and special?

Biologist Joe Benshemesh from La Trobe University talked to Australian Geographic in 2010, saying that they are one of the few mammals that can spend their entire lives underground. 

"They are arguably the world's most burrow-adapted mammal," he wrote, explaining that they are blind with calloused noses and foreheads, which allow them to move around. Their forearms are super powerful so that they can dig.

In order to survive, they eat insects and larvae. Since they weigh only 40 to 60 grams, they have really low oxygen requirements, meaning that they can use the air that flows between the grains of sand.

"Unlike most burrowing mammals, marsupial moles don't construct hollow tunnels in which to live and run about," says Benshemesh.

"Instead, they tunnel and backfill as they go, carving a hole in the lightly cemented sand ahead with their extraordinary spade-like fore-feet, and pushing the loosened sand back behind themselves with their slightly webbed hind-feet. At the same time they squeeze their tubular body forward a few centimeters at a time."

If you watch the video, you will see that the mole is showing that behavior. It might look like a lot of work for such a small creature, but they do save energy in some ways.<p>(VIDEO)

"While their unusual form of locomotion is slow and laborious, they also seem tuned to a frugal life and save energy and resources by allowing their body temperature to reflect that of the surrounding sand, as if they were reptiles."

This one was spotted after the rangers had been out filming documentaries about bush food.

"We were driving along a bush track on our way home when this little golden creature ran across the road in front of us," Kate Crossing wrote on the Tjamu Tjamu Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page, on behalf of the Kiwirrkurra rangers.

"We all crowded round as Yalti [one of the rangers] held this beautiful creature carefully in her hands, its powerful front feet trying to dig to safety. [Another ranger] Walimpirri told us how he'd last seen one many years ago near Kiwirrkurra, and some of the rangers said they'd never seen one ... After a few minutes of wonder we gently put it down away from the road and watched in awe as it dug straight down and disappeared," she says.

Why they are so rarely spotted isn't clear - it could either be that they just don't spend a lot of time above ground or, like many suspect, there just aren't that many left.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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