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Cousin Who? Gliding mammals may be primates' nearest kin

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10:37am, October 31, 2007

Hey, primates, meet the colugos—two little-known species of small rain forest mammals now presented as your next of kin.

With one species native to the Philippines and the other to Southeast Asia, colugos can stretch out a membrane that lets them leap off trees and glide some 70 meters.

They've landed on the nearest surviving evolutionary branch to primates', suggests a new genetic analysis by William Murphy of Texas A&M University in College Station and his colleagues. The researchers added a novel twist by looking at rare genetic glitches as well as familiar genes.

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