Flying squirrels glow pink in dark + Gators eat rocks to increase underwater time

Flying Squirrels That Glow Pink in the Dark

EXCERPT: . . . John Martin, a biologist, was in his backyard with an ultraviolet flashlight. Suddenly, a hot-pink squirrel flew by. It was a southern flying squirrel [...] Under most circumstances, it has a warm brown color. But in the beam of Dr. Martin’s flashlight, it sported a gaudy Day-Glo hue closer to something you might see in a nightclub or a Jazzercise class circa 1988.

“He told his colleagues at Northland College, but of course, everyone was pretty skeptical,” said Allison Kohler, a graduate student at Texas A&M University. Dr. Martin asked Ms. Kohler, then a student at Northland, to look into it. [...] the researchers and their colleagues reported surprising results last week in the Journal of Mammalogy: The pink is real.

Three different species of flying squirrel — southern, northern and Humboldt’s flying squirrel — turned that color under ultraviolet illumination. What the flying squirrels get out of it is still a mystery. [...] The vivid pink color might have evolved to confuse the owls who prey on the squirrels. [...] Or, if it’s confirmed that the squirrels see UV, the color might have something to do with mating or signaling to other flying squirrels....


Alligators Eat Rocks to Increase Time Underwater

INTRO: Alligators fill their bellies with small rocks as a way to stay underwater for longer periods of time, according to a recent study in the journal Integrative Organismal Biology. Ingesting stones equal to just 2.5 percent of the alligators’ body weight increased the animals’ dive time by an average of 88 percent, extending it up to 35 minutes, Science magazine reported....


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