Monday, February 11, 2019

Hot Pink

Image result for southern flying squirrelEnvironmental & Science Education
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

There are so many things yet to be learned about the natural world. Some of them are learned first by chance and then are more carefully scrutinized. Here is a recent one.

The current issue of Nature reports on another of the rare examples of fluorescence in mammals. It was discovered when a researcher studying lichens with UV light shined the light on a flying squirrel. It shimmered hot pink so he and his colleagues checked museum specimens of 135 other squirrels. Only the new world flying squirrels show this characteristic.

The short news item in Nature notes that "The role of the hot pink fur is unknown, but the team says it could help the animals find — and perhaps impress — each other in low light. The pink fur pattern could also mimic the plumage of owls, which possess a similar secret glow, to confuse avian predators."

The study was originally published in the Journal of Mammalogy and was done by researchers at Wisconsin's Northland College. And here is the Smithsonian Magazine story which includes a link to the original paper and other information.

h/t Molly

No comments:

Post a Comment