This animal seems to have developed the magnetic sense, used by some birds for navigation on long cross-country flights, to an extent found in no other creature. Fossil remains show the brain cavity to have contained a number of tiny nodules of haematite, an iron oxide with magnetic properties also found in the brains of pigeons and responsible for their orientational skills. The mole apparently used its magnetic sense to solve the problem of navigation underground in total darkness.

The mole, which flourished in several places in Europe including the British Isles, was believed to have become extinct in the Pleistocene after an abrupt reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field confused its orientation and caused it to tunnel ever deeper in the confident belief that it was returning to its burrow. Recently however there have been a number of extraordinary reports of this animal appearing, often in a highly exhausted state, in Australia and New Zealand…

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