by Crystal Cockman
One species that is so unique in appearance that if you spot one, there will be no question that is what you’ve found, is the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata). Their nostrils are ringed by 22 rays, or fleshy tentacles, which possess more than 25,000-minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs. They can touch 10 or 12 different places in a single second. Their star-nose is believed to help the animal forage for small prey. It can also use it to detect seismic wave vibrations.
With each touch 100,000 nerve fibers send information to the mole’s brain – that’s five times more touch sensors than the human hand, in one nose that’s smaller than a fingertip. They have perhaps the best sense of touch of any mammal. The star may also be able to detect faint electrical signals from aquatic prey. If true, star-nosed moles and the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) are the only mammals known to possess this ability. [Read more…]