Astonishing Facts About Star-Nosed Mole Revealed

Posted: Apr 24 2017, 10:53am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 24 2017, 10:57am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Astonishing Facts About Star-Nosed Mole Revealed
A star-nosed mole emerging from its underground habitat. Credit: Ken Catania

The findings show just how weird the animal is

Star-nosed moles are one of the weirdest looking animals in the world. The creature is covered in black far and bird-like claws. But the most astonishing thing about star-nosed moles is that they have 22 pink, fleshy tentacles around their nostrils. These tentacles contribute to the animal’s remarkable sensory ability.

Recently, an expert has revealed some of the most startling secrets of the unqiue animal and this information is based on more than two decades of research.

“Star-nosed moles are truly amazing animals,” said Kenneth Catania, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University. “Obviously they are among the weirdest looking creatures on the planet. But when I began trying to understand the star, the mole's brain organization, and its behavior - that's when things got really surprising.”

Star-nosed moles eat faster than any other mammal on Earth

Star-nosed moles are the fastest eating mammal on Earth. They can identify and consume their food in less than two-tenth of a second. It usually takes them about 8 milliseconds to decide whether an item is edible or not. That’s partly due to their odd snout as well as their nervous system that processes information at breakneck speed.

Their star nose is the most sensitive known touch organ in all mammals

The odd nose of the animal is highly adaptive sensory organ that can sense microscopic level changes in the environment. Their nose contains more than 100,000 nerve fibers. That’s six times more than that of a human hand.

“The star skin is so sensitive that we have not been able to determine the lowest threshold for activating neurons.” Catania said.

Star-nosed moles are Nearly Blind

These creatures are functionally blind. Since they mostly live underground in the dark, they do not necessarily need eyes to navigate and to perform other functions. Instead, they require ultra-sensitive sensory organ for catching their prey. They use their star nose the same way humans use their eyes to see an environment.

Star-nosed moles can smell underwater

Star-nosed moles are the first known mammals to smell underwater. Using their shovel-like front limbs, these creatures dig into the swamps and wetlands. Researchers have found that they can blow bubbles in the water and inhale them through their nose to sniff for prey. This trait is unique to star-nosed moles.

Star-nosed moles weigh around 30 to 50 grams. Although rarely seen, these animals mostly inhabit the wetlands of eastern North America and Canada.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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