A new species of flying squirrel has been discovered in the Himalayas. The size can be compared to a domestic cat. At first, the researchers thought they had found two known individuals of the same species living thousands of miles apart. After further research, they discovered that they were two different species of flying squirrel.

Himalayan Flying Squirrel

Rodents with shaggy tails roam the steep rocks of the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, several thousand meters above sea level. One of them is the wavy squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus), which is one of the largest and lesser-known squirrels in the world (weighs 2.25 kg, measures 90 cm).

Photo by Pavel Kirilov/Flickr

The researchers believed that this flying mammal with rodents (the wavy squirrel – Eupetaurus cinereus) became extinct, but only until the 1990s when it was re-identified. The rocky habitat of the squirrel at an altitude of almost 5,000 meters in remote uninhabited places and the nocturnal nature of the creature are reasons why it was not easy to describe rodents.

Two New Species Discovered

National Geographic explorer Kristofer Helgen, chief scientist and director of the Australian Museum Research Institute is deeply interested in animals that are identified as scientific question marks.

Picture: Nature on PBS/YouTube

At first glance, it seemed that the same species of flying squirrel lived in two places thousands of miles apart – on the border of India, Bhutan, and Tibet, while the other lives in southwest China.

Helgen and his colleague Jackson examined several samples of squirrels in museums around the world. Using DNA analysis, they identified two new species of flying squirrel: the Tibetan wool squirrel (Eupetaurus tibetensis) and the Yunnan wool squirrel (Eupetaurus nivamons).

Because the information was gathered from a limited number of museum samples, researchers cannot the population size and threats to squirrel species are unknown.

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/two-new-species-of-cat-size-flying-squirrels-discovered-in-the-himalaya, featured image by Caroline Legg from Flickr.