It’s always sad to find a dead creature (and this was only my second ever Mole sighting, both dead) but it was a chance to take a closer look at one, in this case at its amazing front paws.
These are highly specialised digging tools, of course, but I’ve only just found out while researching this post that Moles have an extra thumb, called a prepollex, though it’s not really a thumb but rather an extended wrist bone. As the Live Science website explains:
the mole’s extra thumb sprouts from a bone in its wrist, with the thumb-bone growing parallel to the “normal” inner thumb; but that’s where the similarities stop. The outer thumb doesn’t have any moving joints, consisting of a single, sickle-shaped bone that develops later than the inner thumb and the rest of the mole’s fingers.
As the extra bone is rigid and extends the width of the Mole’s palm, it is thought to help this little mammal dig its underground tunnels more efficiently. Amazing!