A recent publication in Nature‘s public access Scientific Reports journal revealed that a study of greater glider genetics found distinct species in the northern, central, and southern regions of Australia. One species of the furry flyer was already known, but it was assumed the gliders just had different traits depending on their habitat.
The possum-sized marsupial that lives in trees during the day before soaring as high as 300-feet in the air at night looking for eucalyptus leaves varies in size, getting smaller the further north they live. The southern species is the biggest, and very little is known about the other two at this point.
Pictured below: The northern species (top left) of greater glider, central species (bottom left), and the southern species (right).
The gliders were already considered vulnerable on the national list of at-risk wildlife, and conservation has become even more urgent and challenging with the discovery of three different species to protect.
“But the division of the greater glider into multiple species reduces the previous widespread distribution of the original species, further increasing conservation concern for that animal and highlighting the lack of information about the other greater glider species,” Dr. Youngentob stated.
Meanwhile, “Australia’s biodiversity just got a lot richer. It’s not every day that new mammals are confirmed, let alone two new mammals.” said James Cook University Professor Andrew Krockenberger.