Friday, 28 April 2017

Star-Nosed Mole Defies Darwinian Expectations

Star-nosed mole. Image courtesy of US National Parks Service, Public domain.

Joel Kontinen

When a science publication describes an animal as weird, we can be sure that the creature does not match Darwinian expectations.

National Geographic recently introduced the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) to its readers. The bizarre creature is totally blind, but it is amazingly quick:

The mole hunts by bopping its star against the soil as quickly as possible; it can touch 10 or 12 different places in a single second...

With each touch, 100,000 nerve fibers 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

While it lives below ground in perpetual darkness and feeds on earthworms, the mole can also swim and use its sensitive star to detect prey in water.

The NG article credits evolution for the creature’s skills, but it is certain that the blind watchmaker could not produce such a well-designed animal.

Some animals, for instance the duck-billed platypus, the spiny anteater, a singing fish, the now extinct pig-footed bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus) and a warm-blooded fish, don’t fit the Darwinian mould.


Engelhaupt, Erika. 2017. Inside the Bizarre Life of the Star-Nosed Mole, World's Fastest Eater. National Geographic (23 April).