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Re: FLYING SQUIRRELS!



Darren Naish writes:

>Ron gave a list of flightless recent birds. I have the idea that the Madagascan
>blue coucal, a bird that was killed off in the 1700s I think, was flightless.
>Any input appreciated. 

The species you are referring to, the snail-eating coua Coua delalandei, was
apparently confined to  Ile Ste-Marie off the Madagascar coast.  It was
described in 1827 and seems to have been last seen in the 1830's though some
books cite records as much as a century later.  It was terrestrial and may
well have been a weak flyer (it was the largest of its genus) but it is not
recorded as flightless in the references I checked.

>
>Ok - there are 43 known species of flying squirrel in 14 genera, they are very
>diverse in anatomy and ecology, and almost certainly represent numerous
>independent radiations from various non-flying lineages.

Not to mention the OTHER rodent gliding line, the African anomalurids or
scaly-tails, which neither coexist with nor are particularly related to
gliding squirrels (which do not occur in Africa).

 >Behaviourally and ecologically, flying squirrels (f-s) are particularly
>interesting. For one thing, they're all nocturnal, which is most odd when all
>other squirrels, and therefore presumably f-s ancestors, are diurnal. It has
>been suggested that the gliders are, because of their wing membranes, more
>susceptible to diurnal predation!

Petaurista petaurista, the species I saw in Borneo, is at least crepuscular,
emerging from its den and gliding about well before dark (which is how I got
such a good look at it).  It is anything but cryptic.

--
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116 (home)
Home: 1825 Shady Creek Court                  Messages: (416) 368-4661
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Toronto, Ontario Canada M5H 3P5