Research

Sniffing Underwater

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the star-nosed mole looks funny. Its distinctive star-shaped nose is a highly-sensitive organ, but the mole doesn’t just use it for finding its way through the underground tunnels it lives in. These moles can actually sniff underwater. By exhaling a bubble and then re-inspiring it, the moles collect scent particles that they can use to locate food. In experiments, both star-nosed moles and water shrews could use this technique to successfully follow a scent trail, demonstrating exploring and pausing behaviors similar to terrestrial sniffing as they did. To learn more about this impressive mammal, listen to the latest episode of Science Friday, where research Ken Catania describes his work with them. (Image credits: K. Catania; via Science Friday)

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