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Why do golden moles have iridescent fur?

At the cold temperatures Europe has been experiencing, everybody dreams of spring. For me personally there is no better embodiment of spring than the wonderful iridescent wings of a butterfly. But iridescence is not only limited to insects and birds. There are rare examples where this effect is also encountered in mammals.

One example are the golden moles, which form the family of Chrysochloridae and are native to northern Africa. They have a blue-green sheen to their fur, which is caused by flattened outer hair, as a group of scientists led by Matthew D. Shawkey recently found out. The question is why these moles developed this feature from an evolutionary point of view. As all mole species golden moles are completely blind the coat cannot be part of sexual ornamentation. The scientists suggest that the beautiful fur may be a by-product in the development of persistent, low-friction coats.

Read more:

Iridescent colour production in hairs of blind golden moles (Chrysochloridae)”

Holly K. Snyder, Rafael Maia, Liliana D’Alba, Allison J. Shultz, Karen M. C. Rowe, Kevin C. Rowe, and Matthew D. Shawkey

Biol. Lett. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.1168