Not a lemur at all, this nocturnal glider is actually the closest living relative of primates. Also called the Sunda colugo, it is found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, including the Malaysian peninsula and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. It eats leaves, flowers, fruit, and sap. Although it can’t technically fly, and its extensive skin membrane certainly looks awkward, it is one of the best gliders in the animal kingdom!
The Colugo: these mammals are able to glide through the air using a fur-covered membrane that stretches across their bodies; as a baby, a colugo that has not yet learned how to glide on its own must cling to its mother's belly instead
These critters are often referred to as "flying lemurs," though they aren't actual lemurs. Genetic studies have indicated that they are among the closest living relatives of primates, occupying a sister group.
Colugos are native to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, where they are traditionally divided into two extant species: the Philippine flying lemur (Cynocephalus volans), which resides in the Southern Philippines, and the Sunda flying lemur (Galeopterus variegatus), which can be found in parts of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The fur-covered membrane that stretches across the colugo's body is known as a patagium; a similar membrane can be found in other gliding mammals (e.g. flying squirrels, sugar gliders, mahogany gliders, etc.) but the patagium of the colugo is uniquely extensive, surrounding almost all of the animal's body margin and stretching even between the tail and hind legs.
When they are not actively gliding, female colugos often pull their tails up against their bellies, effectively curling the patagium into a pouch in which they can carry/protect their young. When gliding, however, the mother must fully extend her patagium, meaning that she has to unfold the pouch and allow the baby to curl itself around her torso (and hold on tight) befor she can begin gliding.
Colugos have a more extensive patagium (and therefore possess more "wing space") compared to other gliding mammals, which enables them to glide much further. There is at least one documented case in which a Sunda colugo was observed gliding across a distance of 145 meters -- nearly the length of three Olympic-sized swimming pools. Another study also indicates that this species is able to glide a total distance of 1,342 meters per night (and can climb a total of 320 meters up into the trees in order to do this).
These critters also have extremely strong claws, and the soles of their feet are able to mimic suction-cups to help them maintain a tight grip on tree trunks and branches. Colugos are most active at night, and they are strictly herbivorous, feeding only on young tree leaves.
I don't normally feature mammals on my blog, but this one in particular seemed too heartbreakingly adorable and too weird for me to ignore. I mean, look -- it's like a tiny dinosaur wrapped in a Snuggie!
Sources & More Info:
Science News: On a cool night in Malaysia, scientists track mysterious colugos across the treetops
Animal Diversity Web: Galeopterus variegates (the Sunda flying lemur)
BioMed Central Journal of Biology: Colugos -- obscure mammals glide into the evolutionary limelight
World Wildlife Fund: Flying Lemurs
National Geographic: Why do flying lemurs glide?
Encyclopedia Britannica: Flying Lemur
Animal Diversity Web: Cynocephalus volans (the Philippine flying lemur)
Flying Lemur | Tupai dari Asia Tenggara | Kubung Sunda | Hewan Nokturnal | Kubung Malaya
Kubung, Merupakan hewan endemik indonesia berjenis tupai yang berasal dari Asia Tenggara yang termasuk kedalam ordo dermoptera. Nama Ilmiah dari hewan ini adalah Cynocephalus variegatus. Hewan ini merupakan hewan yang tidur pada siang hari dan bergerak pada malam hari atau disebut dengan hewan…
The last two weeks I went to the Burke Museum and went into the collections to sketch skeletons and more. All it took was an email to the collections manager and I was in. It was pretty rad being able to handle orangutan skulls and have a full komodo skeleton on the table in front of me to sketch from. This subject matter is really hard to become familiar with, so being able to actually sketch at actual size for some if it felt like a great opportunity. I also went to Seattle Aquarium to draw, looking for animals with non Endoskeletal structures. It cost way too much, but still found some cool stuff. Here's a smattering of sketches, all done on location, for the Peter Han Creature dev class. At the end is one of the assignments, transforming one skeletal structure into another. I turned a Sunda Flying Lemur into a cephalopod type of creature.
Working out the brain by going on a Wikipedia deep dive.
Anyway I would like to introduce you all to the Colugo!
There are two species of these guys, and they’re colloquially known as flying lemurs (despite being gliding mammals, and also not lemurs).
The two species, The Sunda Flying Lemur (The image above), and the Philippine Flying Lemur (the image below) , are the only members of their Family (Cynocephalidae) as well as their Order (Dermoptera).
Sunda Colugos are found throughout Southeast Asia, in Malaysia, Sabah, Singapore, Indonesia, Bali, and many adjacent islands. The Philippine colugo on the other hand, is only found in the Philippines.
The closest mammals related to them are Primates, and colugos are the sister group of the ANCESTORS of Primates. These ancestors broke off into Plesiadapiformes (the extinct sister group of primates), and modern primates. So in untechnical terms, colugos are the aunt group of us primates!
Despite being placental mammals (mammals with nipples that aren’t marsupials), Colugos reproduce very similar to marsupials! They give birth to their young at a very early stage in development, then fold their long webbed tail into a pseudo pouch to Store their young in. These babies become mature at around 2 to 3 years old.
Colugos are arboreal, meaning they live in the trees, and their blanket like appearance is due to the webs of skin between their limbs and tail, which allows them to glide from tree to tree. Despite their fuzzy top side, their underbellies are completely hairless, which makes them appear like a naked man kite when gliding.
Colugos were classified as Vulnerable in 1996, but were reclassified as least concern in 2008. As tree living species, they are particularly vulnerable to deforestation, and their presence is important as they make up 90% of the diet of the endangered Philippine eagle.
Borneos most unusual animal?. The Colugo. There are only 2 species, the Sunda and the Philippine. Their closest evolutionary relatives are primates. Although often called flying lemurs, they are not related to lemurs. Their gliding membrane called a patagium, is the most expansive of any gliding mammal