Caption: Key changes to certain genes may have allowed the ancient ancestors of colugos
to leap and glide across the forest canopies of Southeast Asia.
On the basis of recent research, scientists suspected that a common ancestor that lived long ago eventually developed into colugos
, primates, and a type of animal called the tree shrew.
This study examines how bat humeral and femoral structural properties differ from those of small-bodied primates, colugos
, and sciurids.
Cousins Gliding mammals called colugos
, which aren't quite primates, showed up in a genetic analysis as primates' nearest kin (172: 275).
With one species native to the Philippines and the other to Southeast Asia, colugos can stretch out a membrane that lets them leap off trees and glide some 70 meters.
Recent research suggests that tree shrews, colugos, and primates descended from a common ancestor, but scientists have not been able to agree on the order in which these branches diverged.