Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Wee Beastie

Image result for golden mole

Environmental & Science Education
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

Katherine Rundell (London Review of Books) asks us to consider the "golden mole." I'm so glad she did. It is an amazing creature.

I'd never heard of this critter that isn't even a mole. It is related to elephants, this mole "small enough to fit in a child's hand."

This mole is iridescent a feature that "turns up in many insects, some birds, the odd squid: but in only one mammal, the golden mole. Some species are black, some metallic silver or tawny yellow, but under different lights and from different angles, their fur shifts through turquoise, navy, purple, gold. Moles, then, with a tendency towards sky colours."

To learn more and to see photographs see Rundell's perfectly delightful and informed essay here.

That this wee beastie is iridescent--it doesn't make sense to us--is likely an accident or a side-effect of another feature of the golden mole's fur. It is a nice example of how evolution works. If I may coin a phrase, never let the perfect get in the way of what works. The fur works and that it is iridescent is a side effect of the ever tinkering nature of biological evolution.

The New Scientist has a short story on this feature.

h/t Molly

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