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The Golden Mole: and Other Living Treasure: 'A rare and magical book.' Bill Bryson

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Even more disturbingly, Rundell argues that extinction is “not just happening because of our inertia: it’s incentive-driven” – through a ghastly process known as “extinction speculation”. Those who trade in Norwegian shark fin, rare bear bladders, rhino horn and even frozen bluefin tuna would love these species to go extinct, because prices would go through the roof.

Consider the Golden Mole · LRB 18 April 2019 Katherine Rundell · Consider the Golden Mole · LRB 18 April 2019

a b Asher, Robert J.; Maree, Sarita; Bronner, Gary; Bennett, Nigel C.; Bloomer, Paulette; Czechowski, Paul; Meyer, Matthias; Hofreiter, Michael (9 March 2010). "A phylogenetic estimate for golden moles (Mammalia, Afrotheria, Chrysochloridae)". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10 (1): 69. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-69. PMC 2850353. PMID 20214773. S2CID 2276457.Rundell’s selection is rangy and personalised. There’s bound to be animals one feels to have been unfairly overlooked, and I would have liked to see her on at least one bird of prey, or declining beetle, or endangered cat. The Bengal tiger would have been too much to ask: a whole book would be required to explore the references and resonances that accompany it. The lynx, though, is secretive and mysterious enough not to have already exhausted our cultural imaginations, and could fit snugly into one of these short entries. Some animals that would have most brilliantly galvanised Rundell in the telling and fit well into her format, rich as they are in folklore, misunderstanding and wild factoids, are doing just fine. The spotted hyena, much maligned and endlessly fascinating in terms of legend and science, by and large doesn’t need the help of a book like this. Rundell’s latest LRB piece has been published this month, and is on hummingbirds. As it’s not included here, maybe there’s a second edition of this golden treasury being planned. Populations of golden moles are often restricted to patches of suitable habitat with friable soils and abundant invertebrate prey, so that the distribution of demes is clumped, even within the more widespread taxa. Consequently, different species seldom coexist and compete for resources, even though their distribution may be broadly sympatric. If two species occur in the same area they tend to occupy different microhabitats, probably as a result of ecological displacement. Thus, for example, the Fynbos golden mole ( A. corriae) and Cape golden mole ( C. asiatica) occur together at Stellenbosch, but they inhabit different soil types. At Wakkerstroom, the Highveld golden mole ( Amblysomus septentrionalis) is found only in grasslands and around marshes, whereas Sclater’s golden mole ( Chlorotalpa sclateri) is restricted to scrub associated with montane cliffs and gorges (Roberts 1951). The very limited reproductive data available (for only a few species) suggest that golden moles breed throughout the year, perhaps with a peak in the wetter months when prey is more abundant, and may be polyoestrous (Bernard et al. 1994; Schoeman et al. 2004). Litter sizes are small (usually 2) and post-natal development is extended, reaching up to 45 days in the Cape golden mole. Behavior

The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell, Talya Baldwin - Waterstones

Most other species construct both foraging superficial burrows and deeper permanent burrows for residence. Residential burrows are relatively complex in form and may penetrate as far as 1 metre (3ft 3in) below ground and include deep chambers for use for refuge, and other chambers as latrines. They push excavated soil up to the surface, as in mole-hills, or compact it into the tunnel walls.


Digimorph Digiital morphology account of the golden mole skeleton (genus c hrysochloris) Literature Cited Golden moles show many anatomical characteristics common to other fossorial mammals, these similarities being the result of ecological convergence rather than ancestry. The eyes are vestigial and covered by skin, and the optic nerve is reportedly degenerate (though there is some debate as to whether or not this is indeed so), a common tendency in animals living underground where sight is of little use. The external ear pinnae are absent (though there are small ear openings covered by dense fur), the external tail is lost, and the body has a streamlined shape to facilitate movement through the dense substratum.

Golden Moles | IUCN Afrotheria Specialist Group Golden Moles | IUCN Afrotheria Specialist Group

Most of the species listed in threatened categories have restricted or fragmented distributions where populations are being subjected to increasing habitat degradation as a result of human activities, most notably mining, urbanization, agriculture and the poor management of indigenous forests. From bears to bats to hermit crabs, a witty, intoxicating paean to Earth's wondrous creatures [...] shot through with Rundell's characteristic wit and swagger." In presenting us with a world “populated with such strangenesses and imperilled astonishments”, The Golden Mole also wants us to be angry and committed to conservation. Here, Rundell makes a number of powerful points. The age-old search for (almost certainly nonexistent) “natural aphrodisiacs” is “evidence of great human vulnerability, and enough stupidity to destroy entire ecosystems”. Several species would be far safer if we could just abandon our silly faith in the magical powers of tiger claws, rhino horns or the flesh of the coconut crab.Golden Moles share a number of features, varying by species, seldom seen elsewhere among living mammals, including three forearm long-bones, hyoid- mandible articulation, and a hypertrophied malleus. [5] Some species have hypertrophied (enlarged) middle ear ossicles, in particular the malleus. These animals have the largest malleus relative to body size of any animal. [9] This morphology may be adapted for the detection of seismic signals. [10] [11] [12] In this respect there is some apparent convergent evolution to burrowing reptiles in the family Amphisbaenidae. Seymour, R. S., Withers, P. C. & Weathers, W. W. 1998. Energetics of burrowing, running and free-living in the Namib Desert golden mole ( Eremitalpa namibensis). Journal of Zoology, London 244: 107-117. Three species (Congo golden mole, Calcochloris leucorhinus; Somali golden mole, Calcochloris tytonis; Visagie’s golden mole, Chrysochloris visagiei) are listed as Data Deficient as so little is known about these species that their conservation status cannot be objectively assessed.

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