Seismic sensitivity in the desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti): a review.


Behavioral and anatomical studies relating to possible seismic sensitivity in the desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti) are reviewed. Field studies in the Namib desert have shown that isolated hummocks of dune grass generate low-frequency vibrations, distinct from the background noise at a distance of many meters. The golden mole apparently uses these cues to orient itself toward the hummocks and the prey species within. An analysis of middle ear morphology suggests that the massive malleus of the golden mole is adapted toward a form of inertial bone conduction, suitable for the detection of seismic cues obtained in this manner. The significance of seismic sensitivity in this golden mole is briefly discussed.