Moles Can Smell in Stereo

Most people have heard of "stereo sound," but not many may be familiar with "stereo vision," which helps many mammals discern depth. Seeing and hearing in stereo helps creatures living above ground, but moles need different equipment. Biologist Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University conducted three clever experiments to see if the blind eastern American mole used "stereo smell."

First, he built a chamber with trails that led outward from a central mole entry point, like a semicircle of wheel spokes. He placed a bit of earthworm, which moles love to eat, at the end of one of the trails and watched. On each trial, the mole first sniffed, moving its head back and forth, and then travelled straight to the food. Nature Communications published the results.1

For the second experiment, Catania blocked the mole's left nostril. This skewed the creature's tracking accuracy consistently to the left. Similar results obtained when Catania blocked just the right nostril. Finally, Catania inserted tubes into both nostrils, but the tubes crossed so that each nostril accessed air that would usually enter the other nostril. This left the poor creature totally confused.

"It was amazing. [The moles] found the food in less than five seconds and went directly to the right food well almost every time. They have a hyper-sensitive sense of smell," Catania told Vanderbilt research news.2

Stereo smell can only work if the nervous system can detect a difference in the strength of an odor entering each nostril. Considering the tiny distance between the nostrils, the precision and miniaturization of this biological chemical detector is mind-boggling.

Whether noticed or ignored, one can always detect the scent of the expert Designer behind any expert design. And these blind moles certainly emanate the fragrance of design.

References

  1. Catania, K. C. 2013. Stereo and serial sniffing guide navigation to an odour source in a mammal. Nature Communications. 4 (2).
  2. Salisbury, D. Evidence moles can smell in stereo. Vanderbilt University news. Posted on news.vanderbilt.edu February 5, 3013, accessed February 12, 2013.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on February 27, 2013.

The Latest
NEWS
A Little Book with a Big Plan
Are you tired of reading dinosaur books to your kids while trying to filter the evolutionary worldview? ICR just published a new children’s book...

NEWS
Bees Are Actually Really, Really Smart
“These are, high, high, highly intelligent creatures,” said conservation biologist Reese Halter.1   Halter was speaking of the fascinating...

TESTIMONIALS
A Firm Foundation
Hello, I’m Don Barber, Director of Enterprise Technology at ICR. After serving here in a variety of roles for many years, I’m so glad to...

NEWS
Data Leads to Correct Post-Flood Boundary
For decades, creation scientists have debated the level at which the Flood ended in the rock record. In the past, many have based their conclusions...

NEWS
More Problems with Iconic Milankovitch Paper
Secular scientists have a difficult time explaining an Ice Age, even though there is strong geological evidence that one occurred. In fact, creation...