The most sensitive patch of skin belongs to the tip of the star-nosed mole snout, a mammalian like us, says a new study.
This organ has a higher proportion of touch-sensitive nerve endings than pain receptors, according to the findings by researchers from the California-Berkeley and Vanderbilt universities. Touch and pain are closely intertwined sensations. But very little is known about how these sensations are detected in our cells.
The study authors turned to a unique species for answers: the star-nosed mole, the journal Public Library of Science ONE reports. Besides the distinction of being the fastest-eating mammal known, the star-nosed mole also possesses one of the most sensitive tactile organs known in the animal kingdom.
The star on its nose has the highest density of nerve endings known in any mammalian skin, with over 100,000 fibres in a patch of skin about 1cm across.