April 28, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Moose Muzzle: A Nose for News

Curious about the enigmatic nose structure of the moose, two researchers picked up moose roadkill and decided to study those large, comical Bullwinkle faces, reports Nature.1  Lincoln Tim writes,

The moose, Alces alces, is a member of the deer family, but its nasal apparatus is unlike that of any of its relatives.  The apparatus overhangs the mouth, and the nostrils are large and laterally sited …. The muzzle contains a long and complex nasal cavity, with a highly complicated muscle and cartilage system.

Though the puzzle of the muzzle is not completely solved, the scientists suggested it serves the following functions:

  • Enhances blood and brain cooling.
  • Enhances efficiency of feeding with its mobile and tactile features.
  • Has nostrils that can close while under water.
  • Derives directional information from smell.
    Andrew B. Clifford and Lawrence M. Witmer reported their results in the Journal of Zoology 262, 339-360; 2004.  On May 6, MSNBC News reported on this story and included a handsome moose muzzle portrait.

1Lincoln Tim, “Zoology: Nose of Moose,” Nature 428, 904 (29 April 2004); doi:10.1038/428904a.

Now you know.  All that and no transitional forms, either.

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Categories: Mammals

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