Another strange cutie ~
humans can also sniff the surroundings and follow the smell to find good food, but when it comes to underwater, we terrestrial mammals cannot use our sense of smell. However, the star-nosed mole can do this by smelling it underwater.
the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) is a strange little animal. The tentacles on the tip of its nose are enough to attract the eye, and these tentacles provide it with sensitive tactile signals.
and the researchers found that the star-nosed mole's nose also behaves unusually underwater-when underwater, they exhale small bubbles from their nostrils with high frequency and then quickly suck them back. The frequency of this action is very similar to that of sniffing on land.
slow motion looks like this:
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to confirm whether the action is smelling, the researchers tested the ability of star-nosed mole rats to track odor clues underwater. It was found that the trained star-nosed mole successfully found the right end along the underwater smell clue with an average of 85% of the correct rate, thus winning a food reward. Even if the sensitive tentacles on the tip of their nose are blocked with a metal mesh, the sense of smell can play a role.
when they sniff underwater, it is important that the bubbles come into direct contact with the smelling object. If a thin net is used to block the bubbles, their success rate of tracking odors will be much lower.
what is shown in the picture below is that the bubble comes into direct contact with the smelling object, and the odor molecules quickly spread into the bubble. as a result, the star-nosed mole can smell:
so, can people use their sense of smell underwater in a similar way? Researcher Kenneth Catania is skeptical because we are so slow to swallow bubbles. In order to avoid choking water, please don't try.
by the way, this researcher is a very interesting person. He has done a lot of interesting research on his own (only his name is ∠). He also wrote the previously mentioned research paper on electric eel.
more read: dynamic picture appreciation: electric eel's water blow!
what's it like to be electrocuted by an electric eel on the arm?
original paper: https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7122/abs/4441024a.html