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De Winton's Golden Mole

scientific name: Cryptochloris wintoni

Last seen: 1936 in South Africa

Years lost: 81

The 21 species of golden moles, most of which occur only in South Africa, show many unique traits. They have an oily secretion that lubricates the fur with an iridescent sheen (and gives rise to the name “golden mole,” even though most are not golden in color), distinctive skeletal characteristics that enhance hearing underground (so they can detect prey, being blind), and very unusual brain anatomy suggesting advanced navigation abilities based on the “sixth sense” (remembering muscular activity patterns, or “kinesthesia”). De Winton’s Golden Mole is particularly threatened because it occurs in a very small area where natural habitat is threated by large-scale alluvial diamond-mining operations. It could well be lost to humankind unless there is a concerted effort to save this potentially lost species.