(Web Desk) – Thirty years of research on star nosed mole has revealed shocking insights into the evolution of animal behavior and the limits of physiology.
The nearly blind animal can find and gobble down an insect or worm in a quarter of a second.
In search of food, the fuzzy little carnivore bobs its head in constant motion through soggy soils touch 10 or 12 different places in a single second.
The mole lives on worms, inspects and small fish. It lives below ground in a world of perpetual darkness surrounded by crawling creatures where eyes and ears are meaningless and touch is everything.
To better see, it presses its nose to the ground, which transmits a three-dimensional picture of the terrain back to its brain – like a mental sonogram. When it presses down it feelers, it does it with more speed.
With each touch, 100,000 nerve fibers, the nose send information to the mole’s brain. That’s five times more touch sensors than in the human hand, all packed into a nose smaller than a fingertip.
Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University will present a new synthesis of remarkable anatomical findings about the mole at the American Association of Anatomists annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting, to be held April 22-26 in Chicago.