Field of Science

Name the Bug #5

(Attribution to follow)

Hint: it's not a bug.

Update: Identity now available here. Photo from here.


  1. The tail's got a weird pattern that made me think "scaly-tailed flying squirrel", but it looks more like a colugo (Cynocephalidae). Cynocephalus volans?

  2. Mike, your first impression was surely correct; that's an anomalurid (a.k.a. a scaly-tailed squirrel). Colugos have shorter tails than that, and the peculiar "scaly" pattern at the tail's base is typical of anomalurids.

    As for which particular anomalurid species it is: since that's a pretty big animal by rodent standards, I'm going with Anomalurus peli, the largest species. (The presence of a patagium rules out Zenkerella, which is a smaller animal anyway.)

  3. Ah whoops, I was going by pics of the pygmy one.

    That's the one all right. What are those odd struts coming out from around the elbows?

  4. What are those odd struts coming out from around the elbows?

    Supporting rods of cartilage. That feature can be used to tell anomalurids apart from true flying squirrels; in the former, the cartilage rods emerge from the elbow joints, in the latter from the wrists.

  5. I am confident (p<0.01) that this is NOT a protist.

    [room fills with awkward silence]

    How the hell can you guys manage to identify random inconspicuous features of equally obscure animals??? *awed*

    Microbial eukaryotes are so much easier to deal with...! =P

  6. I was going to say that the "ouros" looked very anomalous to me, but Mike and Dartian were too quick for me!
    Gliding adaptations have evolved in mammals at least half a dozen times: how many of these forms have (had) extra "struts" to support the patagium analogous to the cartilaginous rods on this one? Do gliding possums have them? Are the fossils of Volaticotherium and the (??Miocene??) gliding dormouse good enough to tell whether they had anything like this?


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