Blind golden mole unearthed 87 years after ‘extinction’ travels through sand

After being thought to be extinct for 87 years, a blind golden mole with the ability to swim through sand has been found again in South Africa.

After a two-year search using DNA samples, scientists were able to find the mole in sand dunes in the north-west of the nation. 

Together with a group of geneticists and conservationists from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a sniffer dog was also assigned tasks.

Since 1936, the golden mole species had vanished from view. 

They are roughly the size of a mouse or hamster, and they have been seen in the Northern Cape's little town of Port Nolloth.

To make matters worse, they are extremely difficult to locate due to their extremely sensitive ears, which are capable of picking up movement from above ground. Also, they don't leave tunnels behind them and reside in mostly inaccessible burrows.

"We were fairly confident that if De Winton's golden mole was in the environment, we would be able to detect it by finding and sequencing its DNA," stated Samantha Mynhardt, a conservation geneticist with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Stellenbosch University, in a press release.

"Extracting DNA from soil is not without its challenges, but we have been honing our skills and refining our techniques - even before this project."

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