Hanoi, Vietnam -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/19/2013 -- A new species of flying squirrel has been discovered in Laos. The animal is in the genus Biswamoyopterus and has been named Biswamoyopterus Laoensis, it has been suggested that the common name will be the Giant Laotian Flying Squirrel. The animal weighs 1.8Kg and is 42 inches in length, comprised of 18 inches in body length and 24 inches for the tail. For an animal of this size to be discovered is an unusual circumstance to say the least.
Mr. Daosavanh Sanamxay a masters student at Thailand’s Songkla University, is lead author of a paper that was published in the journal Zootaxa. He said, “It is a remarkable discovery for science. It is very rare species with large body size. The specimen of the Laotian giant flying squirrel was incidentally found on display for sale at a bush meat market in Central Lao PDR about a year ago.”
It is an amazing find at such an ignominious place as a meat market. It is expected that the animal was caught by hunters working in the area of the Nam Kading National Biodiversity Conservation Area. This area situated in the middle of Bolikhamxai province has an elevation of between 500 and 1200 metres. The home is known to be home to other unusual and sometimes extremely rare creatures like the gaur, the giant muntjac, gibbons, and many more. Most of this area is only accessible on foot and is extremely poor and underdeveloped. It is an area of outstanding beauty and scientific interest. If not caught in this area, the other possibility would be the Khammouan Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area, where a completely new genus and species of rodent Saxatilomys paulinae was discovered in 2005. This area of tower limestone karst landscape is in Binh Tri Thien Province.
The large flying squirrel is predominantly reddish brown in color. It is varigated with white hairs to a different degree. The base of the individual hairs are normally a metallic ash color, changing after 20 mm to a red brown. Then, after a further 15 mm, this ends in a black tip, about 3mm in length. There is, what is described as, a “whitish-gray band, some 6 mm in length, is present in hairs that reside in areas of the upper surface that are extensively grizzled.”
This new species is closely related to the extremely rare Namdapha flying squirrel, Latin name Biswamoyopterus Biswasi. Only one specimen has ever been found, in 1981 in northwest India. This was previously collected in the Patkai Mountain range at an altitude of 350 metres. The Deban area where it was found is also extremely isolated and under developed. The geographical range of either species is completely unknown.
This remarkable discovery has Biologists from Thailand, the UK and the Lao People’s Republic extreme excited. The news was announced by an International team of biologists from these countries at the beginning of September.
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