That’s right, two new fur babies have just been discovered in Australia, expanding the marsupial family just a little bit more.
Alright, they’re not exactly your adorable, household puppy, but they’re cute none-the-less. And these little guys were previously not thought to exist. That’s until Australian scientists discovered with DNA evidence that one of our country’s airborne marsupials is in fact three separate species.
The two new species fall under the greater glider family, cousins of the doe-eyed flying marsupials. The possum-like creatures live in the forests of eastern Australia; however, their close relatives were discovered in northern and central parts of the country.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, James Cook University Professor Andrew Krockenberger described: “Australia’s biodiversity just got a lot richer. It’s not every day that new mammals are confirmed, let alone two new mammals.”
The northern glider, which inhabits eucalyptus forests between Mackay and Cairns in Queensland, is the smaller of the species which grows to the size of a little ringtail possum.
The central species, which is believed to be the middle in size, inhabits a range across southern Queensland and north to Mackay.
Speaking to the SMH, Australian National University ecologist Dr Kara Youngentob said: “It’s really exciting to find this biodiversity under our noses, and gliders are such a charismatic animal as well.”
— Lisa Cox (@_LisaMCox) November 6, 2020
Unfortunately, in recent years, the species has been classified as at risk, with the gliders population declining by as much as 80 per cent over the past two decades due to global warming, logging, and the expansion of urban development.
“For the southern species, anything over 20 degrees Celsius at night means it has to use its energy to actively cool itself and high temperatures also put them off their food and stop them eating,” Dr Youngentob described.
— Raiden Smith (@RaidenSmith14) November 8, 2020
They may be endangered, but these two marsupials just gave us two more reasons to cherish our environment.