Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 10th, 2008
A Sunda colugo, a type of flying lemur (above), carries its baby as it soars through a Singapore rain forest in an undated photo.
The discovery of at least three new species of colugo flies in the face of knowledge about the tree-dwelling creatures, scientists said today.
Flying lemurs are considered the closest living relatives to primates.
The two previously known species are the Sunda and Philippine colugo.
But new DNA analysis of the Sunda colugo, found in Indochina and Indonesia, has revealed that what was thought to be a single species is actually at least three.
“We didn’t realize how extensive the speciation events were,” said lead author Jan Janecka of Texas A&M University.
Colugos have specialized physical features, such as a skin membrane attached to their limbs, that allow them to live in their unusual treetop habitats.
When species branched off over time, they retained the same appearance, Janecka said—leading scientists to believe the Sunda colugos belonged to one species.
The finding also has a “big conservation impact,” Janecka added.
Now, if a regional population dies out due to deforestation or other human activities, he said, an entire species could be lost.
Photograph by Norman Lim
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.