Domain: Eukarya
Condylura cristata belongs to the Eukarya domain. This domain is classified by organisms that are eukaryotic, or that have a nucleus within their cells. In English, “eu” means true and “kary” means nut, which refers to the nucleus inside (Borror 1960). So “Eukarya” means “True Nut”, or in other words, there is a true nucleus holding DNA found within the cells.

Kingdom: Animalia
The next step on the tree for Condylura cristata is the kingdom Animalia. This kingdom houses the animals of the world. Members of the Animalia kingdom are multicellular and are heterotrophic, meaning they need to consume other organisms for nutrients.

Phylum: Chordata
The Chordata phylum is a group of organisms that have formed a notochord and dorsal nerve endings; “chorda” means chord. This phylum includes deuterostomes, like Condylura cristata, that form their anus before their mouth during development; “deuteron” means second and “stoma” means mouth (Borror 1960). So this translates to the mouth is second.

Class: Mammalia
The class Mammalia contains the mammals. These organisms are vertebrates who feed their young with milk during their early years. “Mammal” refers to the mammary glands that produce the milk (Borror 1960).

Order: Eulipotyphla
Eulipotyphla is the order that houses moles, shrews and hedgehogs, all of which, are normally insectivorous organisms. These animals must feed constantly to store enough nutrients for their normally fast-moving lives. They are normally pretty small, and can be found throughout the world, with the only exception being extremely cold locations.

Family: Talpidae
Talp means “a mole” and, thus, Talpidae is the family of moles (Borror 1960).  A vast majority of these organisms are fossorial or at least partially fossorial, meaning they live the majority of their lives underground. Their eyes are usually extremely small and usually useless. Most have powerful forelimbs that are built for digging and foraging underground.

Genus: Condylura
The name for the genus Condylura was given based on an incorrect drawing. “Condyl” means a knob or knuckle and “oura” is Greek for the tail. So Condylura literally means a knob on the tail. Once again, this was based on a bad drawing of a mole (Borror 1960).

Species: Condylura cristata
Condylura cristata is then named for its most obvious feature, its star-shaped nose. “Crist” means a crest, which refers to the star on its nose (Borror 1960). So Condylura cristata literally means "Knob Tail Crest."

Phylogenetic tree of the Star-nosed Mole and close relatives. Photo credit: Koyabu et al. via 2011.

This figure shows the phlogenetic tree of the star-nosed mole and its close relatives. As you can see, Condylura crisata is a member of the family Talpidae along with other moles. The Talpidae family is a subset of the group Lipotyphla along with the Soricomorpha and the Erinacemorpha famillies. Condylura cristata is the only organism on this phylogeny that is both subterranean and also aquatic.

Phylogenetic tree for the Star-Nosed Mole
This is the phylogeny of the class Mammalia. Condylura cristata is found under shrews and moles. Even though you may expect them to be closely related to rats and mice, they are actually more closely related to animals such as dogs, cats, bats (like the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)), rhinos and even whales (like the Long-Finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas))!

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