After losing it 86 years ago the golden mole was spotted in South Africa After losing it 86 years ago the golden mole was spotted in South Africa

After losing it 86 years ago the golden mole was spotted in South Africa

After losing it 86 years ago the golden mole was spotted in South Africa

A team of researchers discovered a shiny golden mole on a beach in South Africa, after it was considered extinct in 1936 as a result of the disappearance of all traces of this species.
The blind animal, known as De Winton's golden mole, which has superior hearing abilities, was discovered in Port Nolloth on the west coast of South Africa by a team from the Endangered Wildlife Foundation (EWT) and the University of Pretoria.

These small mammals, about the size of hamsters, spend most of their lives underground and avoid humans, making them difficult to detect.

This particular species was threatened by diamond and mineral extraction activities in Africa, and when science lost it 86 years ago, researchers assumed it was extinct.


But using DNA from the sister golden mole, researchers were able to track it down with the help of a sniffer dog who led them to tunnels hidden on the beach.

The researchers began their research in 2020, using samples from De Winton's sister species, the endangered Van Zyl golden mole, to see if this technique was applicable.

The golden mole is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, and golden moles have only been found in the Port Nolloth area.

After the successful results of the pilot study, the team set off in 2021 to the West Coast in search of the animal.

"We had high hopes, but they were also dashed by a few people," said Samantha Meinhardt, a biologist at Stellenbosch University. "One of De Winton's experts told us: 'You won't find this mole, it's extinct.'"

The team and the police dog scanned the beach, until the dog picked up the scent, which led to small tunnels flowing under the sand.

The team took soil samples to confirm that it belonged to De Winton's mole.

The samples included the animal's hair, skin, cells and secretions, which the team extracted and compared with the DNA of the species studied.

However, the DNA was not a match because it did not come from De Winton's mole.

In 2022, the missing evidence was found at the Port Nolloth Museum, with an ancient specimen of the De Winton golden mole in its collection.

A separate team of researchers sequenced many of its genes, allowing EWT to compare the results with soil samples, and the results were identical.

Two De Winton golden moles have now been confirmed and photographed at Port Nolloth, Meinhardt said, while the research team has found signs of other groups in the area since 2021.

There are 21 species of golden moles, most of which live only in South Africa.



Russian scientists propose using bacterial proteins to store data

Researchers in Russia analyzed all the studied information about the properties of the proteins of light-sensitive bacteria (rhodopsin).
They proposed using membranes based on these peptides to develop photochromic materials suitable for creating data storage systems. This was announced by the press service of the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Anna Druzhkova, a researcher at the institute, analyzed many data, which allowed her to show how the unique basic properties of the bacterial protein (rhodopsin) can be used to create different types of practical devices. Among them are devices for recording, processing and storing visual information.

It is noteworthy that bacterial rhodopsins are proteins that interact with light molecules and extract energy from them. Microbes use them as light sensors and as “engines” for molecular pumps that pump specific ions into or out of the cell. These proteins are now actively used in many biological and biophysical studies.

Drozkova was interested in other possible practical applications for these light-sensitive bacterial proteins. In order to receive this information, the researcher analyzed and organized the results of more than 200 studies on rhodopsin bacteria, which were conducted in recent decades at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences as well as by other scientists around the world.

Analysis of the results of these applications showed that bacillushodopsin-based membranes are a promising material for creating optical information storage systems. Drozhkova noted that this is because bacterial protein molecules have a very high resistance to physical and chemical influences when packed inside membranes, and are able to withstand a very large number of operating cycles, exceeding this limit set for other materials.

According to the researcher, the modified bacteria could be used to develop not only rewritable optical memory, but also other storage media capable of holding data, including analogues of storage devices and similarities to blank CDs, on which information can be recorded once. Drozhkova concluded that the creation of these information carriers will greatly expand the human arsenal for storing information.
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