Evolution and systematics

Fossil records for this family date back to the late Eocene (40 million years ago). Traditionally, both golden and "true" moles (Talpidae) have been placed within the order Insectivora. Golden moles have been considered part of a suborder Tenrecomorpha, together with tenrecs.

Molecular studies of phylogenetic relationships now conclude that golden moles fit within a superordinal group called Afrotheria that evolved separately from primitive placental mammals of northern continents. The similarities between moles and golden moles are thus a case of parallel adaptation. Scientists propose that golden moles and tenrecs be placed in an order Afrosoricida—the "African shrew-like mammals."

The family Chrysochloridae is divided into two subfamilies. Chrysochlorinae consists of six genera: Eremitalpa has a single species, Grant's golden mole Eremitalpa grand; Chrysospalax, the giant golden moles, has two species; Chrysochloris, the Cape golden moles, has three species; Cryptochloris, the cryptic golden moles, has two species; Carpitalpa has a single species, Arend's golden mole Carpitalpa arendsi; Chlorotalpa has two species. The subfamily Amblysominae has three genera: Amblysomus, the

A Grant's desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti) catches a locust in the sand dunes of the Namib Desert, Namibia. (Photo by Michael Fog-den. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

The Grant's desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti) uses its powerful forelimbs to burrow through the sands of the Namib Desert in southern Africa. The golden mole moves forward (1), and enlarges the tunnel by pushing dirt up with its head and back with its claws (2). (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah)

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The Grant's desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti) uses its powerful forelimbs to burrow through the sands of the Namib Desert in southern Africa. The golden mole moves forward (1), and enlarges the tunnel by pushing dirt up with its head and back with its claws (2). (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah)

narrow-headed golden moles, has five species; Neamblysomus has two species; Calcochloris has three species.

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