Evidence for multiple species of Sunda colugo

Evidence for multiple species of Sunda colugo
Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 21 , R1001-R1002, 11 November 2008

Mr. Norman Lim, former Research Assistant, RMBR, who is now at a PhD candidate at the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis, is part of the team who unveils the diversity within the Colugo genus Galeopterus, which was previously recognised as only one species.

Flying lemurs, or colugos, are among the most enigmatic mammals. They have the most extensive gliding membrane of any volant mammal, allowing them to traverse distances up to 136 meters. Current taxonomy recognizes just two colugo species, each assigned to a unique genus: the Sunda colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) and the Philippine colugo (Cynocephalus volans). Because the evolutionary history of colugos is poorly known we undertook the first study to examine genetic variation in the broadly distributed Sunda colugo. Our results, combined with morphological data, provide compelling evidence that mainland, Javan, and Bornean colugo subspecies may be better recognized as distinct species, potentially tripling species diversity in the genus Galeopterus.

Photo by Norman Lim.

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