The Greater Glider is a staple of Australia's animals. They are small mammals that mainly feed on eucalyptus leaves and roam around the Australian bush at night. They look like a living, breathing Furby. However, despite scientists theorizing for years that they might be multiple different species, they did not have the evidence to prove it until recently.
What the scientist's found
A study, published on the 6th of November in Nature, shows evidence that there are not just one species of greater glider, but three! The study in question, titled Genetic evidence supports three previously described species of greater glider, Petauroides volans, P. minor, and P. armillatus, used a genotyping tool called Diversity arrays technology (DArT) to look at tissues from over 50 greater gliders all across Australia and look at their DNA.
"There has been speculation for a while that there was more than one species of greater glider, but now we have proof from the DNA," says Ph.D. candidate Denise McGregor who co-authored the study.
This is not the only case of this happening, as just a few months ago, scientists found that another species of glider, the sugar glider, was also 3 different species.
What does this mean?
The separation of the greater glider into 3 species also causes a risk to all three species. The greater glider was already at risk of extinction due to a decreasing population, but now that it is split into 3 populations, all three of them are now seen as smaller populations that are even more at risk of going extinct.
"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," says co-author and ecological scientist Kara Youngentob from Australian National University.
While this is fascinating information, hopefully, this can work to kickstart more conservation efforts to help keep all three species alive.
To learn a little bit more about these species, check out the video below