Pel's flying squirrel

Pel's flying squirrel
Pel's Anomalure.jpg
Pel's Anomalure, Ankasa Conservation Area, Ghana
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Anomaluridae
Genus: Anomalurus
Species: A. pelii
Binomial name
Anomalurus pelii
( Schlegel & Muller, 1845)
Subspecies

A. p. auzembergeri Matschie, 1914
A. p. pelii Schlegel & Müller

Pel's flying squirrel or Pel's scaly-tailed squirrel (Anomalurus pelii) is a species of rodent in the family Anomaluridae. It is found in Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Ghana, where it lives in lowland tropical rainforests.

History

The tropical forests of Africa were little explored by Europeans before the nineteenth century. Colugos and flying squirrels had been known from south eastern Asia and gliding marsupials from Australia earlier than this, but the discovery of the scaly-tailed squirrels of equatorial Africa was not made till the 1840s. British zoologist and collector Louis Fraser exploring the Niger basin brought a specimen of Lord Derby's scaly-tailed squirrel (Anomalurus derbianus) back to Britain. Compared to the previously known flying squirrels, this had two rows of large scales on the underside of the basal part of its tail. The flying membrane stretched from wrist to ankle and was supported by a cartilaginous strip which had its origin at the elbow. (The east Asian flying squirrels have a similar cartilage strip, but it terminates at the wrist.) The scaly tailed squirrels had an additional membrane extending from the ankle to part-way along the tail, and when extended, the membrane formed a straight line from heel to heel. [2]

Ten years later, a specimen of another species, Pel's flying squirrel, was brought to Europe and showed similar anatomical features. The hands and feet had the digits close together with strongly curved nails. The tail was also unusual in that the free part resembled the shape of a feather, with the large cornified scales a prominent feature on the underside. The animal's fur was described as soft and supple, without any spines. [2]