The renowned physicist John Archibald Wheeler once suggested, “In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.” Certainly it is hard to imagine an animal much stranger than the star-nosed mole, a creature you might picture emerging from a flying saucer to greet a delegation of curious earthlings. Its nose is ringed by 22 fleshy appendages that are usually a blur of motion as the mole explores its environment. Add large clawed forelimbs, and you've got an irresistible biological mystery. How did this creature evolve? What is the star? How does it function, and what is it used for? These are some of the questions that I set out to answer about this unusual mammal. It turns out that the star-nosed mole has more than an interesting face; it also has a remarkably specialized brain that may help answer long-standing questions about the organization and evolution of the mammalian nervous system.