Functional and systematic implications of the ear in golden moles (Chrysochloridae)



Golden moles (Chrysochloridae) are fossorial mammals known to have unusual mallei. The aim of this study was to describe and quantify aspects of the auditory morphology of golden moles in order to determine their systematic and functional implications. Observations were made on skeletal material as well as histological sections. The results of this study do not support the separation of the genus Calcochloris from Amblysomus. It was found that the morphology shared by all the studied genera is indicative of specialization for hearing low frequency sound. The tympanic membrane to stapes footplate ratios, ossicular lever arm ratios and incudomallear joint morphology suggest low frequency specializations in genera with small mallear heads and high frequency specializations in genera with large mallear heads. However, the size and degree of trabeculation of the tympanic cavity are not consistent with this result. It is proposed that all golden moles are low frequency hearers with differences in their range of sensitivity according to how much time they spend foraging above ground.