Nature

How the Flying Squirrel Soars

Transcript

A nocturnal member of the squirrel family searches for fungi, its favorite food.

But fungi are spread in random patches throughout the forest and the squirrel has to cover large distances to find them.

So this squirrel has evolved a special talent - it flies!

The northern flying squirrel is just six inches long and weighs the same as a typical smartphone.

Yet it can leap almost 150 feet between trees.

Its 'wings' allow it to glide through the canopy.

Flying squirrels are an incredible piece of aeronautical engineering.

A large membrane stretches between their wrists and ankles and another smaller membrane runs between the ankles and tail.

Combined they form a parachute.

Flying squirrels have the longest limbs of all the squirrels to make their parachute as large as possible.

A piece of cartilage on the end of each wing gives them an upturned tip, this reduces drag and increases stability.

It's the reason many airplanes have upturned tips on their wings too.

The result is these incredibly long leaps at speeds of up to 20 miles an hour, allowing the squirrels to travel widely through the forest.


URL: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/a-squirrels-guide-to-success-how-the-flying-squirrel-soars/16697/
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