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Cryptic New Species of Flying Squirrel Identified in North America

Scientists stating in a Journal of Mammalogy on May 30 have identified a new class of drifting squirrel vital in a Pacific Coast segment of North America.

The Humboldt’s drifting squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis), a third-known class of drifting squirrel in North America and a 45th famous class of drifting squirrel in a world. Image credit: Nick Kerhoulas.

The Humboldt’s drifting squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis), a third-known class of drifting squirrel in North America and a 45th famous class of drifting squirrel in a world. Image credit: Nick Kerhoulas.

New World drifting squirrels (genus Glaucomys) are small, nocturnally-active, gliding squirrels. They are distributed from Alaska to Honduras.

These animals don’t indeed fly like bats or birds. Instead, they slip from tree to tree by fluctuating furred membranes of skin that widen from a wrist of a forearm to a ankle on a rear leg. Their feather-like tail provides additional lift and also aids in steering.

The gliding ability of drifting squirrels is remarkable: they are able of gliding for adult to 100 m and can make sharp, midair turns by regulating their tail as a rudder and relocating their limbs to manipulate a figure and tension of their gliding membranes.

Scientists had suspicion that there were usually dual class of Glaucomys: a southern drifting squirrel (Glaucomys volans) and a northern drifting squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus).

However, genetic information now uncover that a Glaucomys classification consists of three, rather than dual species, and that a northern drifting squirrel is indeed stoical of dual separate, non-hybridizing species.

The newly-identified class is called a Humboldt’s drifting squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis).

It inhabits a Pacific Coast segment of North America, from southern British Columbia to a plateau of southern California.

“For 200 years we suspicion we had usually one class of drifting squirrel in a Northwest — until we looked during a chief genome, in further to mitochondrial DNA, for a initial time,” pronounced co-author Prof. Jim Kenagy, from a University of Washington and a Burke Museum of Natural History Culture.

“The formula of a DNA analyses were striking: they indicated that no gene upsurge was occurring between a Pacific Coastal form and a widespread, inland, continental form of a northern drifting squirrel, even when dual occurred together.”

Because a new investigate shows that Humboldt’s and northern drifting squirrels both start together during a same places within some tools of Western Washington and southern British Columbia, it is probable that destiny studies competence exhibit hybridization between these dual species, even yet this investigate did not find a dual class interbreeding in a areas a authors examined.

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Brian S. Arbogast et al. Genetic information exhibit a mysterious class of New World drifting squirrel: Glaucomys oregonensis. Journal of Mammalogy, published online May 30, 2017; doi: 10.1093/jmammal/gyx055