After DNA testing of new tissue samples from animals, scientists determined that two new mammal species, two cat-sized kangaroos living in Australian forests, had been discovered in Southern Australia,media CNET reported. The findings are detailed in a new study published in the journal Nature.
The discovery is significant because it means gliding mammals are more diverse than previously thought, increasing the biodiversity of animals found in Australia.
“It’s really exciting to find this biodiversity under our noses,” researcher Kara Youngentob told The West Australian. “Dividing large gliding mammals into multiple species reduces the previous widespread distribution of the original species, further increasing conservation concerns for the animal and highlighting the lack of information about other large gliding species.”
Night-going gliding mammals live in hollow trees during the day and roam the forest at night in search of their favorite food, the leaves of eucalyptus. Like the animal’s name, it can glide 328 feet (100 meters) in the air.
Effective conservation of endangered animals depends on accurate classification, so the two new species may need protection like the original gliding mammals, which are currently listed as “endangered” by habitat destruction in Australia. Even before Australia’s devastating bushfires killed millions of animals, Petauroides volans’ populations were declining.
Since the bushfires in Australia, “there has been a growing concern about understanding the genetic diversity and structure of species to protect resilience in the face of climate change,” Youngentob added.
Using tissue samples from various gliding mammals found in Queensland and Victoria, as well as genetic sequencing tests taken from museum specimens, the researchers were able to identify differences in the DNA of gliding mammals. The Large Gliding Mammals belong to three different species and now include Petauroides minor and Petauroides armillatus in addition to the original Petauroides volans.
The new study, which focuses on the genetics of large gliding mammals, found that three different species live in southern, central and northern Australia. Researchers from the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and James Cook University carried out the study.
“For a while, people were speculating that there was more than one species of the Great Gliding Mammal, but now we’ve got dna proof. It changes the way we think about them,” researcher Denise McGregor told the Guardian.
The discovery of two new large gliding mammal species has also sparked interest among animal lovers on social media. “That’s it, the world is a better place.” Someone wrote.