Humans and most other mammals can see and hear in stereo, but now it’s known that a ubiquitous garden critter can smell in stereo too.
The super smeller is the common mole, according to a paper in the journal Nature Communications. This is the same animal that might be out in your lawn and garden right this very minute, digging holes and searching for something tasty to eat. We don’t often get to see moles up close, but as you can tell from the photo (above), it’s all about the nose.
Stereo smelling means that each nostril takes in different odors, with the brain recognizing those differences. The discovery is a first, since no mammals were thought to have this ability.
“I came at this as a skeptic,” neuroscientist Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University was quoted as saying in a press release. “I thought the moles’ nostrils were too close together to effectively detect odor gradients. The fact that moles use stereo odor cues to locate food suggests other mammals that rely heavily on their sense of smell, like dogs and pigs, might also have this ability.”