The extensions of skin attached to the legs of flying squirrels enables low-energy air transport by serving as a deployable gliding surface.

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"Membranes of skin are also used by other mammals to achieve, if not real flight, at least gliding. The flying squirrels and gliding possums have a membrane of skin extending between the wrist and ankle on each side of the body. When the animal launches itself from a high branch it spreads its limbs wide apart and the taut membranes act as a parachute: the great gliding possum can make leaps covering 100 metres in this way. 'Flying' frogs have similar enlarged membranes between their long toes which they use in gliding leaps from tree to tree." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982)

"Keith Paskins of the University of Bath, is trying to mimic flying squirrels for use in unmanned crafts. The squirrels have floppy skin attached to their wrists and ankles, which they can stretch out to make a gliding surface. The animals also appear to be able to control their gliding through rapid movements while in the air. By incorporating jumping as a flying squirrel does, the craft could conserve energy by using gliding to fly to the surface." (Courtesy of the Biomimicry Guild)

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The grand design: Form and colour in animalsBLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, LondonAugust 7, 1983
Sally Foy

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Northern Flying SquirrelGlaucomysSpecies

southern flying squirrel

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