- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Learn to smell underwater with the star-nosed mole
Sniffing brings molecules in the air around us into our nose, where they are detected and manifested in our brains as smells. But try the same trick underwater and you would rapidly choke or drown. Nonetheless, smell is a tremendously important sense for most mammals and at least two species have found a way to safely sniff in water.
The star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) is one of them and it has one of nature’s most unusual noses. Its snout ends in a ring of 22 fleshy tentacles that are loaded with touch sensors. With this nasal star, the mole rapidly touches and assesses its world, searching for worms to eat. The mole is not limited to underground tunnels, but it’s