World’s Oldest Flying Squirrel Fossil Discovered

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According to (This article and its images were originally posted on Breaking Science News October 10, 2018 at 09:12AM.)

Mammals can walk, hop, swim and fly; a few, like marsupial sugar gliders or colugos, can even glide.

Flying squirrels are the only group of gliding mammals to have achieved a significant diversity (52 species in 15 genera) and wide geographical distribution across Eurasia and North America.

To drift from tree to tree, these small animals pack their own ‘parachute:’ a membrane draping between their lower limbs and the long cartilage rods that extend from their wrists. Tiny specialized wrist bones, which are unique to flying squirrels, help to support the cartilaginous extensions.

The origin of flying squirrels is a point of contention: while most genetic studies point towards the group splitting from tree squirrels about 23 million years ago, the oldest remains — mostly cheek teeth — suggest the animals were already soaring through forests 36 million years ago.

However, recent studies show that the dental features used to distinguish between gliding and non-gliding squirrels may actually be shared by the two groups.

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This article and images were originally posted on [Breaking Science News] October 10, 2018 at 09:12AM. Credit to the original author and Breaking Science News | ESIST.T>G>S Recommended Articles Of The Day.

 

 

 

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