In North America, flying squirrels have been discovered that glow pink in the UV light.
The discovery happened quite by accident. One evening, scientist John Martin from Northland College in Wisconsin went with an ultraviolet lantern to watch local night flying squirrels (goodnewsanimal.ru).
"When I heard the chirping of a squirrel, I immediately directed the light of a lantern on it and suddenly I saw a bright pink glow!"
North American flying squirrel
After that, Martin and his colleagues decided to check whether other proteins are glowing in the ultraviolet. They examined a total of 135 specimens of different kinds of squirrels from around the world from Honduras to Alaska, including stuffed squirrels from the museum.
The remains of the glowing flying squirrel from the museum. Photo: A. M. Kohler et al./J. Mamalmal
These included the American red squirrel, the eastern gray squirrel and the fox squirrel (black squirrel). None of them also glowed in the ultraviolet.
It turned out that only one genus of North American flying squirrel glows pink, namely Glaucomys, in which there are three species. Moreover, both males and females glow and the squirrel's fur glows even if the squirrel is dead for a long time and is in the museum in the form of a stuffed animal.
While scientists do not know why these squirrels need to emit a bright pink color in the ultraviolet, and why this is not the case with other flying horns. Can proteins thus identify each other, either to scare away night predators, or it is simply a residual phenomenon of evolution.
In nature, this phenomenon is called fluorescence, but it is most often observed in fish or amphibians, and not in mammals.
Researchers published their article about this discovery in the Journal of Mammalogy.
“There is so much in our world that we still don’t know and do not understand at all. And occasional surprising discoveries of this kind once again make us convinced of this,” says Associate Professor Eric Olson of Northland College.
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