Humongous, Chihuahua-Sized Species of Flying Squirrel Has Been Discovered in China

shabeerthurakkal/iStock via Getty Images
shabeerthurakkal/iStock via Getty Images

Flying squirrels can be found in most of Earth’s forests, but you probably wouldn’t be able to actually find one—the elusive little mammals are so good at flying under the radar that scientists have a hard time studying them.

That’s why, when Quan Li of the Kunming Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences spotted a strange-looking squirrel specimen in the institute’s collection last year, he thought it was just a variation of the rare Namdapha flying squirrel, a species in the Biswamoyopterus genus. Upon further investigation, reports, he realized the differences were considerable enough that it must be a previously unknown species within the same genus.

The new species (called Biswamoyopterus gaoligongensis, or the Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel, after the region where it was first discovered) has bi-colored ear tufts, a dark brown scrotum, a white belly, and a shorter, wider skull than other close relatives. Like its relatives, the new guy weighs between 3 and 4 pounds, or about the size of a Chihuahua.

Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel
Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden

Part of the reason that Quan Li first misidentified the squirrel he saw as a Namdapha squirrel is because we don’t know that much about Namdapha squirrels—scientists have only ever spotted one of them, in 1981. It’s critically endangered due to hunting and habitat loss.

To study the new flying squirrel species further, Quan Li and his colleagues traveled to Mount Gaoligong in Yunnan Province in southwest China, where the specimen had been collected before being brought to the institute. There, they were able to obtain another Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel specimen, as well as observe two others.

The area in which the new species was found is within the 777-mile-long region between where the Namdapha squirrel was first observed in 1981 in India, and where a specimen from the Laotian giant flying squirrel (the other known species in the Biswamoyopterus genus) was observed in 2013. This “suggests that the genus is much more widespread than we previously thought,” Quan Li said in a statement announcing the finding.

Quan Li and his team are hoping to discover more squirrels in the area, and soon. Because these squirrels inhabit low-altitude forests near human settlements, they’re extra-susceptible to poaching or habitat destruction.


Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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The Reason Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Crew, Unsplash
Crew, Unsplash

Depending on your mood, a dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying or adorable. The behavior is also confusing if you're not an expert on pet behavior. So what is it about the canine companions in our lives that makes them stick by our sides at all times?

Most experts agree on a few different reasons why some dogs are clingy around their owners. One is their pack mentality. Dogs may have been domesticated thousands of years ago, but they still consider themselves to be part of a group like their wild ancestors. When there are no other dogs around, their human family becomes their pack. According to Reader's Digest, this genetic instinct is also what motivates dogs to watch you closely and seek out your physical touch.

The second reason for the behavior has to do with the bond between you and your pet. As veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack told the American Kennel Club, puppies as old as 6 months can imprint on their human owners like they would their own mothers. Even older dogs will bond with the humans in their lives who show them care and affection. In these cases, a dog will shadow its owner because it sees them as an object of trust and security.

The last possible explanation for why your dog follows you has more to do with your treatment of them than their natural instincts. A popular training tactic is positive reinforcement—i.e. rewarding a dog with treats, pets, and praise when they perform positive behaviors. The point is to help your dog associate good behaviors with rewards, but after a while, they may start to associate your presence with rewards as well. That means if your dog is following you, they may be looking for treats or attention.

A clingy dog may be annoying, but it usually isn't a sign of a larger problem. If anything, it means your dog sees you in a positive light. So enjoy the extra companionship, and don't be afraid to close the door behind when you need some alone time.