Mammal Monday – “Seeing” Stars

Did you know?

Appropriate to its life largely underground, the star-nosed mole is essentially blind. However, thanks to the tentacled star, the mole has perhaps the best sense of touch of any mammal in the world.

Each of the .03-.16 inch-long (1-4 mm) tentacles is covered by about 25,000 minute touch receptors, known as Eimer’s organs. The receptors come in three varieties, including one that senses the microscopic texture of objects, believed to be unique to the mole. The tentacles, which are also thought able to detect the minute electrical fields produced by aquatic animals as they move through water, move with lightning speed, and can touch as many as 12 objects per second. This allows the mole to rapidly identify and consume small prey, which consist of worms (including leeches), aquatic insects like dragonflies and damselflies, and the occasional terrestrial insect, mollusk, and small fish.

Animal Guide: Star-Nosed Mole, Nature | PBS


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