Excerpt from original article posted at mongabay.com
November 10, 2008
–”Comparing the DNA of colugos across southeast Asia, an international team of researchers has found that Sunda colugo – one of two known species of colugo (the other is the Philippine colugo) – is actually made up of at least three species, which date back millions of years.
“We were guessing that we might find that there were different species of Sunda colugo-although we were not sure,” said Jan Janecka of Texas A&M University. “But what really surprised us was how old the speciation events were. Some went back four to five million years.”
The researchers speculate that the species tally is likely to rise as more research is done. Janecka says that that colugos’ high degree of speciation may be explained by their mode of locomotion – gliding between tall rainforest trees. Colugos are virtually incapable of crossing large open ground and populations would be been isolated and fragmented by the changes in sea levels and forest communities across their range over the past 10 million years.
The findings are likely to have conservation implications in a landscape that is rapidly being destroyed by loggers and industrial agriculture developers.”
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