The Star-Nosed Mole

The star-nosed mole may take the prize for the most unusual looking mammal to exist. It has what looks like a fleshy, pink starfish coming out of its face. According to research it is the most sensitive organ of any mammals on earth, containing 22 appendages. There are 25,000 miniscule ‘touch domes’ on the star, and there are 100,000 nerve fibres supplying them.

The mole uses the star in the same way we use our eyes – moving around this little sensitive area for high resolution, and scanning with the other parts of the star. Also, the mole currently holds the Guinness World Record for eating speed. They can decide to eat something and continue to look for the next food source in about 200 milliseconds, which equates to a fifth of a second.

In addition to the amazing sensitivity to touch, the mole can also smell underwater, which nobody had believed to be possible for a mammal to do. It was filmed under water, thinking they would be less efficient but it turned out to be the complete opposite. The mole sniffs by pushing air bubbles onto things and re-inhaling the air bubbles to retain the smell.

The star-nosed mole lives in the North-Eastern United States, such as Pennsylvania. They are common, but very rarely seen. The mole is about 15-20cm fully grown, and they have 44 teeth. The moles are covered in very thick black/brown water repellent fur. They also have large, scaled feet and a long, thick tail which functions as a fat storage reserve for the spring breeding season.

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