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Temporal range: Late Eocene to recent[1]38–0 Ma
Anomalurus beecrofti, Beecroft's flying squirrel
Artist: Joseph Wolf, 1851
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Anomaluromorpha
Family: Anomaluridae
Gervais in d'Orbigny, 1849
Type genus

The Anomaluridae are a family of rodents found in central Africa.[2] They are known as anomalures or scaly-tailed squirrels. The six extant species are classified into two genera.

All anomalurids have membranes between their front and hind legs like those of a flying squirrel, but they are not closely related to the flying squirrels that form the tribe Petauristini of the family Sciuridae. They are distinguished by two rows of pointed, raised scales on the undersides of their tails.[3] The anatomy of their heads is quite different from that of the sciurid flying squirrels.

By extending their limbs, anomalures transform themselves into a gliding platform that they control by manipulating the membranes and tail.[4] Like flying squirrels, these species have a cartilaginous rod that aids them in maintaining the extension of the patagium when in flight; unlike flying squirrels, their cartilage originates at the elbow joint rather than at the wrist.[5]

Most anomalurid species roost during the day in hollow trees, with up to several dozen animals per tree. They are primarily herbivorous, and may travel up to 6 km (3.7 mi) from their roosting tree in search of leaves, flowers, or fruit, although they also eat a small amount of insects. They give birth to litters up to three young, which are born already furred and active.[3]

Anomalurids represent one of several independent evolutions of gliding ability in mammals, having evolved from climbing animals.[6][7] The others include the true flying squirrels of Eurasia and North America, colugos or flying lemurs of Southeast Asia, and the marsupial gliding possums of Australia.


Taxonomy follows Fabre et al. 2018.[8][9]

Fossil genera[edit]

Several fossil genera are also known:


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  2. ^ Dieterlen, F. (2005). "Family Anomaluridae". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 1533. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. ^ a b Fleming, Theodore (1984). Macdonald, D. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 632. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.
  4. ^ "Anomalure | rodent | Britannica".
  5. ^ Waterhouse, George Robert (27 September 1842). "Descriptions of New Species of Quadrupeds collected by Mr. Fraser at Fernando Po". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 10: 125. Retrieved 9 December 2023.
  6. ^ Fabre, Pierre-Henri; Tilak, Marie-Ka; et al. (June 2018). "Flightless scaly-tailed squirrels never learned how to fly: a reappraisal of Anomaluridae phylogeny". Zoologica Scripta. 47 (4): 404–417. doi:10.1111/zsc.12286. S2CID 89754034.
  7. ^ Coster, Pauline M. C.; Beard, K. Christopher; Salem, Mustafa J.; Chaimanee, Yaowalak; Jaeger, Jean-Jacques (2015). "New fossils from the Paleogene of central Libya illuminate the evolutionary history of endemic African anomaluroid rodents". Frontiers in Earth Science. 3: 56. Bibcode:2015FrEaS...3...56C. doi:10.3389/feart.2015.00056. hdl:1808/22093.
  8. ^ Fabre, Pierre-Henri; Tilak, Marie-Ka; Denys, Christiane; Gaubert, Philippe; Nicolas, Violaine; Douzery, Emmanuel J. P.; Marivaux, Laurent (July 2018). "Flightless scaly-tailed squirrels never learned how to fly: A reappraisal of Anomaluridae phylogeny". Zoologica Scripta. 47 (4): 404–417. doi:10.1111/zsc.12286. S2CID 89754034.
  9. ^ Heritage, S.; Fernández, D.; Sallam, H. M.; Cronin, D. T.; Esara Echube, J. M.; Seiffert, E. R. (2016). "Ancient phylogenetic divergence of the enigmatic African rodent Zenkerella and the origin of anomalurid gliding". PeerJ. 4: e2320. doi:10.7717/peerj.2320. PMC 4991859. PMID 27602286.
  10. ^ Sallam, Hesham M; Seiffert, Erik R.; Simons, Elwyn L., Brindley, Chloe. A Large-bodied Anomaluroid rodent from the earliest late Eocene of Egypt: Phylogenetic and biogeographic implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(5):1579–1593, September 2010.

External links[edit]

  • Meet the Scaly-tail Gliders Among the weirdest and most fascinating of rodents are the scalytails/scaly-tails, scaly-tailed squirrels or anomalures, properly termed Anomaluridae.