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.


7 Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioners You Can Buy Right Now

Black + Decker/Amazon
Black + Decker/Amazon

The warmest months of the year are just around the corner (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and things are about to get hot. To make indoor life feel a little more bearable, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top-rated portable air conditioners you can buy online right now.

1. SereneLife 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner; $290

SereneLife air conditioner on Amazon.

This device—currently the best-selling portable air conditioner on Amazon—is multifunctional, cooling the air while also working as a dehumidifier. Reviewers on Amazon praised this model for how easy it is to set up, but cautioned that it's not meant for large spaces. According to the manufacturer, it's designed to cool down rooms up to 225 square feet, and the most positive reviews came from people using it in their bedroom.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black + Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Heater; $417

Black + Decker portable air conditioner

Black + Decker estimates that this combination portable air conditioner and heater can accommodate rooms up to 350 square feet, and it even comes with a convenient timer so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off before you leave the house. The setup is easy—the attached exhaust hose fits into most standard windows, and everything you need for installation is included. This model sits around four stars on Amazon, and it was also picked by Wirecutter as one of the best values on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mikikin Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $45

Desk air conditioner on Amazon

This miniature portable conditioner, which is Amazon's top-selling new portable air conditioner release, is perfect to put on a desk or end table as you work or watch TV during those sweltering dog days. It's currently at a four-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers recommend filling the water tank with a combination of cool water and ice cubes for the best experience.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Juscool Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $56

Juscool portable air conditioner.

This tiny air conditioner fan, which touts a 4.6-star rating, is unique because it plugs in with a USB cable, so you can hook it up to a laptop or a wall outlet converter to try out any of its three fan speeds. This won't chill a living room, but it does fit on a nightstand or desk to help cool you down in stuffy rooms or makeshift home offices that weren't designed with summer in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

5. SHINCO 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $320

Shinco portable air conditioner

This four-star-rated portable air conditioner is meant for rooms of up to 200 square feet, so think of it for a home office or bedroom. It has two fan speeds, and the included air filter can be rinsed out quickly underneath a faucet. There's also a remote control that lets you adjust the temperature from across the room. This is another one where you'll need a window nearby, but the installation kit and instructions are all included so you won't have to sweat too much over setting it up.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Honeywell MN Series Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier; $400

Honeywell air conditioner on Walmart.

Like the other units on this list, Honeywell's portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier or a standard fan when you just want some air to circulate. You can cool a 350-square-foot room with this four-star model, and there are four wheels at the bottom that make moving it from place to place even easier. This one is available on Amazon, too, but Walmart has the lowest price right now.

Buy it: Walmart

7. LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $699

LG Portable Air Conditioner.
LG/Home Depot

This one won't come cheap, but it packs the acclaim to back it up. It topped Wirecutter's list of best portable air conditioners and currently has a 4.5-star rating on Home Depot's website, with many of the reviews praising how quiet it is while it's running. It's one of the only models you'll find compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can cool rooms up to 500 square feet. There's also the built-in timer, so you can program it to go on and off whenever you want.

Buy it: Home Depot

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Fiona the Hippo Is Now on Cameo

Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Fiona the Hippo has earned her status as a celebrity. Born prematurely and weighing just 29 pounds in 2017, she became a sensation when she beat the odds and survived. Now, the Cincinnati Zoo's most beloved resident is taking her famous mug to Cameo.

Cameo is a service that allows fans to pay for personalized video messages from various celebrities. Most celebrities on the website are people, but that hasn't stopped Fiona from offering her star presence to the public.

For $100, you can request a custom video from the Cincinnati Zoo starring Fiona. A zoo staff member will recite the message while filming Fiona being adorable in her enclosure. One example video shows Fiona hanging out with her mom and snacking on some lettuce while her caretaker wishes the recipient a happy birthday.

Animal lovers who pay for a Cameo from Fiona will be supporting a good cause, too. Proceeds from the purchase will go to the Cincinnati Zoo, which is currently operating at limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a Cameo account, you can request your own video message for $100 here.

This isn't the first time the Cincinnati Zoo has used Fiona's popularity as a fundraising tool. Earlier this year, the zoo started selling the dung left behind by Fiona and other animals as garden fertilizer.