Perfectly fit for its life in the trees, the colugo just doesn’t ‘fit’ into the evolutionary ‘tree of life’

Despite the colugo’s inconspicuous existence and nocturnal habits—gliding silently from tree to tree high in the tropical rainforest canopy—this reclusive leaf-eating mammal of Southeast Asia has certainly stirred evolutionists.

That’s because the colugo just doesn’t ‘fit’ the supposed ‘evolutionary tree of life’.

Sir David Attenborough, narrating a BBC documentary, said,

“It’s a colugo or ‘flying lemur’, though this is something of a misnomer, as it doesn’t actually fly, and it certainly isn’t a lemur. In fact, nobody’s quite sure who its closest relative is.”1

‘There is a correct tree of life, but we don’t yet know what it is.’—Richard Dawkins, The Colugo’s Tale, 2004

As in other gliding mammals, a thin gliding membrane orpatagium extends from the colugo’s body to the limbs. But there are striking differences between it and other mammalian gliders, which are either rodents (order Rodentia, e.g. the flying squirrels of America and Eurasia) or marsupials (order Marsupialia, e.g. the flying phalangers, sugar gliders and feathertail possums of Australia and Papua New Guinea). Colugos are neither. They are the only members of the “obscure and tiny”2 order Dermoptera—‘skin-wings’.

Batty ideas

The colugo’s large patagium gives it a wingspan of up to 70 centimetres (27 in)—the size of a large doormat. Also, unlike the other gliders, the membrane embraces nearly the entire body margin, extending to the tail, limbs and tips of the fingers and toes. This webbed space between fingers and toes is why evolutionists for some time thought they could place colugos somewhere ‘near’ the ancestor of bats on the ‘evolutionary tree’. Outspoken evolutionist Richard Dawkins (trying to explain how neo-Darwinism might bridge the mind-bogglingly huge gap between non-flying and flying animals) wrote in his 1996 book Climbing Mount Improbable:

‘We are more closely related to flying lemurs than we are to half-apes.’—Professor Ulfur Arnason, Department of Evolutionary Molecular Systematics, Lund University, Sweden

“My guess is that both bats and birds evolved flight by gliding downwards from the trees. Their ancestors might have looked a little like colugos.”3

Evolutionists at that time thought that “an early branch of the ‘primate’ tree gave rise to the megabats via the intermediate, gliding dermopterans”4—i.e. from colugos came bats….

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