Throughout the history of our planet, only a select few groups of animals have been able to achieve the power of flight. Birds & Insects are the main creatures that have developed this skill, with a couple other special animals such as Pterosaurs and Bats. But just because you can't fly, doesn't mean you can't soar through the air! And that's what this article is all about defenders...how some select mammals have evolved the ability to glide! Gliding is different from flying because gliding is heavier than air, and it does not have continuous thrust or power. So once an animal "takes off" their initial burst is the only momentum they have, and they must ride the wind to soar to their destination. Aside from bats, mammals do not have wings, so this process of gliding through the air requires a different body part - The Patagium! This is a a type of membrane that helps animals glide or fly, and is found in many creatures like these gliding mammals, birds, gliding lizards, and a few others. If you look at a gliding animal and see their arms and legs connected by a thin membrane, looking like a parachute almost, that's the patagium! Gliding can provide many benefits to an animal - getting from one location to another in a faster, safer route, avoiding predators, and more.
Gliding Mammals include all of the following:
- Wrist-winged gliders such as Sugar Gliders and Mahogany Gliders
- Flying Squirrels
- Colugos (Nicknamed "flying lemurs" but are not actual lemurs)
- Sifakas (actual flying lemurs)
- Feather-tailed Possums
- Anomalures (known as scaly-tailed flying squirrels)