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Function of the Star in the Star-Nosed Mole, Condylura cristata

Edwin Gould, William McShea and Theodore Grand
Journal of Mammalogy
Vol. 74, No. 1 (Feb., 1993), pp. 108-116
DOI: 10.2307/1381909
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1381909
Page Count: 9
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Function of the Star in the Star-Nosed Mole, Condylura cristata
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Abstract

The star-nosed mole, Condylura cristata, possesses curious behavioral and structural specializations of its proboscis. Nine positions and movements of the rays associated with various contexts are described. Bites were concentrated on strong electrical spots (clitellum and reproductive pores) when pursuing submerged worms, such as Lumbricus terrestris. On their first trials, six of seven moles preferred the simulated electrical field of an earthworm rather than an identical arrangement without an electrical field. Star movements, mole behavior, and preliminary experiments are consistent with the hypothesis that the star-nosed mole uses an electrical sense to detect prey; conclusions must remain tentative until it is possible to obtain repeated responses from individual moles or from a larger sample of individuals.

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