Species Discovery

New flier glides into the Pacific

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Science  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6350, pp. 468
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6350.468-a

A third species of North American flying squirrel


Current news tends to be about species lost, not gained, so it is encouraging to discover a previously unknown species right under our noses. North American flying squirrels have long been considered to comprise just two species, one in the north and one in the south. Using a combination of genetic tools on museum specimens, Arbogast et al. found that there are in fact three species. No evidence of gene flow among populations was found, even where the species occur sympatrically. The newly identified Pacific coastal lineage is more closely related to the distant southern flying squirrel than it is to its close neighbor, the northern flying squirrel. This level of distinction could elevate the lineage to the status of a new species: Humboldt's flying squirrel.

J. Mammal. 10.1093/jmammal/gyx055 (2017).

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