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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creature Feature: Star-Nosed Mole.

The best sense in humans is, without a doubt, sight. If it was not, Avatar and other 3-D gimmick films would not have been nearly as successful. A lot more effort would have instead gone into making us able to smell Pandora. (I should not need a picture for why that is a bad idea.)

It should not come as any surprise, then, that some other animals' sensory adaptations are alien and weird to us. This is especially true for anything that lives in darkness, whether it be a cave, underground, or the deepsea abyss. Case in point, a mole with tentacles on its nose:

 

The star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata), found in much of north-eastern North America, has exactly 11 tentacles on either side of its pointy snout. These are extremely touch-sensitive; they are covered in over 25,000 touch sensors called Eimer's organs. Other moles have them, too, but nowhere are they as obvious as on this Morlo- I mean, furball.


Actually, there are a number of flaws with H.G.Wells's conceptualization of people living underground...

Sight is pretty much useless underground; touch and smell are far more important. Many cave-dwelling and abyssal creatures either have poor eyesight or are entirely blind. The same case holds for this mole: Its senses of touch and smell are exponentially greater than those of any creature on the surface world. The star-nosed mole's namesake nose goes the extra mile by allowing the creature to smell underwater as well.


Just remember: This is a creature's nose.

These super-senses allow the star-nosed mole to be the fastest-eating mammal in the world. It can tell whether or not something is edible within 8 milliseconds. The record time in which a star-nosed mole has devoured something is 120 milliseconds. Mole people suddenly became a lot more terrifying, didn't they?


After all, it would mean the end of pie-eating contests.

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