We are Family

Take a very good look at this youngster. Examine his fine features. He’s quite handsome don’t you think?

I hope you thought that he was handsome, because he is apparently a close relative. Do you see the family resemblence?

The enchanted animal from yesterday’s post is a colugo. Molly who suggested that it was a sugar glider is fairly close as they do resemble one another. It is a mammal which distingushes it from sugar gliders which are marsupials. Colugo is the native Malay name for this animal which is also misleadingly known as the Malayan Flying Lemur. It is actually not a lemur at all and it does not really fly. In fact it is one of only two species in the family Cynocephalidae of the order Dermoptera. The family name suggests that the animal has a dog-shaped head and the order name that it posesses a wing made of skin. This skin membrane which stretches between the animal’s limbs allows it to glide as far as 70 m between trees.

The colugo is found in South-east Asia. The photographs in the previous post was taken in Langkawi Island. I, myself have only seen this animal three times and only once in flight. It is a nocturnal animal, active at night, and often seen at dusk gliding from tree to tree. It has been observed at a number of locations to follow a routine. Therefore, it is often able to anticipate a colugo gliding between two trees based on its observed habit. This makes it a readily anticipated sighting for hotel guests at a number of resorts in Malaysia.

So the colugo is active at night and may be seen gliding or “flying” between the same two spots night after night. Its saucer eyes are ideal for seeing things in the dark of night. These descriptions included words that were found in the two songs in the last post .

There was a scientific paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) entitled “Mammalian mitogenomic relationships and the root of the eutherian tree”. According to the paper, an examination of mitochondrial DNA, seems to indicate that the colugo is a close relative of primates.

“Flying lemurs have the same ancestors as the Anthropoidea, that is, apes from the New and Old Worlds, including human beings. We are more closely related to flying lemurs than we are to half-apes,” says Professor Arnason.

Ah, we can chose our friends but we cannot chose our relatives. So once again I hope you thought that he was handsome and cute.

3 thoughts on “We are Family”

  1. Yes, that’s the first thing I noticed when I looked at the pic – the dog head …

    What a beautiful creature …

    I’m guessing that they’re pretty small, like about the size of a chicken egg?

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