Wild Fact #95 – Life Of An Underground Miner – Golden Mole

The Golden Mole

Photo by Killer18 (Wikipedia)

Cool Things About The Golden Mole

  • There are 21 species of Golden Moles all native to southern Africa
  • These moles resemble the Marsupial Moles of Australia so much that they were once believed to be related, despite one being a marsupial (mother carries her babies in a pouch)
  • In certain species of Golden Mole the size of the males penis will determine which mate the female chooses – Tweet This
  • Fossils indicate that this particular mole dates back as far as 40 million years ago…now that is one old animal!

Feeling The Vibration

As you could imagine the life of the Golden Mole, spending almost 100% of their life underground, has lead to the evolution of several adaptations. The first and in my opinion the coolest are the leather-like nose flaps, which as you might expect keep that pesky sand from getting in their nose. It doesn’t happen often but sand in the nose is the worse. Their eyes are covered with fur and skin while their ears are just two tiny holes, so it makes sense that they don’t rely on these to get by in life. Instead, they depend mostly on the sensation of touch and have the ability to detect even the slightest vibration underground. This is crucial for detecting prey and any potential predators that may be lurking in the earthy underworld.

The Golden Mole

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The Importance of Feet

The Golden Mole has also developed a very strong set of shoulders and a large claw on their forelimbs. Naturally, this helps the little mole with their day to day activities of digging and moving about underground.  Again, this is probably a pretty important feature if you life beneath the surface of the earth…or if you are on The Amazing Race and have to build and destroy sand castles (yes, I just watched that  episode of The Amazing Race before writing this Wild Fact). The back feet of our solitary digger are webbed, which allows for them to easily push away the loosened dirt that they just finished digging up. And here I thought, webbed feet were only good for swimming – way to prove me wrong, Golden Mole.

All of these adaptations make life underground a little easier, however, more than half the species on the planet are threatened with extinction as a result of mining, agriculture and other disruptive land uses. Either we need to change our practices or the Golden Mole needs to evolve a little quicker if they want to continue to survive.

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