|Uhh, wait! Not this kind!|
|Sunda Flying Lemur or Colugo|
|Australia Sugar Glider|
Unlike Sugar Gliders, which are marsupials and thus have a pouch for their young to comfortably enjoy their flights in, the Colugo is a Eutherian and has no such useful baby pocket. Instead its young have to cling tightly around their mother's waist during her nocturnal tree gliding. Perhaps this is a secondary evolutionary trait that has made the young into a make-shift airbag for mum's tummy when she lands on a tree?
|A Colugo in full spread with its young holding on|
Amazingly enough it's thought that the majority of Colugos never touch foot on solid ground. Instead they are able to live their entire lives arboreally, up in the trees, gliding from tree to tree when they are avoiding predators or looking for food or shelter.
What I found most astonishing about these guys was their ability to maneuver whilst moving through the air. A PhD student in the doco had caught a wild Colugo and put a camera on its back and released it. He could track the camera and waited for a few days until it had fallen off the animal, then watched the footage. It was insane seeing the first footage from a Colugo's perspective as it glided from one tree to another, while being able to move left and right and dodge obstacles in its path... truly epic considering it is unable to fly!
|Flying Dragon skeleton|
|Flying Dragon in full spread|
Their would-be assassins are a group of snakes in the Chrysopelea family known more commonly as Flying Snakes (wow, back in the day people had such imagination when it came to naming animals, bet you can't guess the common name of the amphibian coming up!). These snakes are mildly venomous to humans and only grow to about 1m in length. The guy in the doco studying them just grabbed one from a tree and got bitten but ignored it, so pretty piss weak I'd imagine, not that I'm signing up for a test-drive of their toxin.
These guys feed off small animals, which obviously includes the Flying Lizard. They're believed to be in an evolutionary 'arms race', which effectively means one's evolving attributes that allow it to better catch its prey, whilst the other is evolving attributes that allow it to better evade its predator. As one gains an advantage over the other, it forces the other to catch up, leading to a very slow evolutionary game of cat and mouse.
|Flying Snake gliding|
Another interesting thing to note about these guys is that you can see their heart while they're flattened out in gliding mode. In the above picture you can just see it about a foot back from the head of the snake.
|Wallace's Flying Frog|
There are numerous Flying Frogs, however the best glider is Wallace's Flying Frog, which is able to glide as far outwards as it falls. In other words it can fall at a 45 degree angle to the ground.
|A future flyer?|
When compared to the other gliders, they're probably bringing up the rear with regards to mastering this ability of gliding, though nonetheless it is impressive to see an amphibian joining the mile-high club! And when it comes down to it, they've mastered the ability of surviving so what else can you say!
|Wallace's Flying Frog, base juuuuump!|
I'll throw up some videos below of these magnificent gliding critters for all you doco junkies out there! For those with a keen eye, watch for the wagging tail of the Colugo while gliding, and also check out how the snake positions itself into a J-shape before throwing itself into the air.
The Flying Dragon and Flying Snake
The Flying Frog