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Pterogen

Development of various anatomical adaptations at live beings depends on features of their environment. And the generality of inhabitancy results in formation of similar adaptations at unrelated species. It has taken place in woods of Equatorial Africa where on top-sized trees many species of mammals able to make long jumps were developed. If the forest canopy is dense, in it tree-climbing animals receive advantages. But in friable multileveled canopy experts in long jumps dominate. And on top of food pyramide there is also living “glider pilot”, but it is a true predator. Predator of the top level of African woods is the long-bodied pterogenettula, small animal with extended body. It had descended from one of species of wood civets managed to go through the time of active hunting in last equatorial woods of Africa. Body length of this predator is about 30 cm at all, and tail lenght is about 20 cm. Externally this animal is similar to any small weasel: at the pterogenettula there are rather short legs and the extended head. The animal has “marble” spotty colouring of large ring-formed spots on light background. It makes this predator imperceptible on the background of bark spotted with shadows of leaves. On head there are dark strips between eyes and nose, needing for recognition of neighbours.  Extremities are rather short, supplied with tenacious claws. But the most remarkable feature of appearance of these small mammals is the presence of small flying membrane between front and hind legs. For improvement of its “flying” properties on edge of membrane the fringe of black fluffy fur (as on sides at Holocene monkey Colobus) is stretched. The long tail of animal serves as rudder. Skilfully using force of wind, the pterogenettula can make jumps up to 20 meters long, losing in height only 8 - 10 meters. Operating flight, the pterogenettula can even catch small birds, preying them in sudden jump from an ambush. If attack was unsuccessful, the animal simply continues a jump, and sits on a tree. Flying up to the final point of jump, the animal weakens flying membrane, and seizes by claws of all four paws branch or bark of tree. Also this predator is able to swarm up trees dexterously, being not inferior to any squirrel in speed. The pterogenettula frequently hunts also a way traditional for predators, chasing catch among branches. Favourite catch of the pterogenettula includes birds, but also it frequently hunts lizards, squirrels and squirrel guenons - dwarf monkeys of forest canopy. This animal is strict solitary predator. Each individual chooses to itself the certain site in forest canopy, reaching not only in sides, but also upwards. Borders are marked by odorous secretions of specific glands of anal area. Seasonal prevalence in breeding of pterogenettulas is not present, and young animals may be met at any time of year. Per one year the female brings 2 packs (4 - 5 cubs in each litter). Young animals differ in darker colouring (light intervals between dark spots so are small, that colouring seems mesh-looking). Approximately at four-monthly age young animals start to study “flying” - to this time the flying membrane at them develops to the full. Sexual maturity comes at them at the age of 8 – 9 months, and life expectancy may be about 6 years.

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