Flying Animals have been evolved separately many times without any single ancestor. They have evolved aerial locomotion either by powered flight or glide. Gliding is an independent powered flight and is an energy efficient way of travelling from one place to another. Worldwide distribution of gliding animal is very different. Here is a list of top 10 world’s flying animals,
1. Flying Fish
Flying fish has an uncommon ability to stay away from water for few seconds by flying in air using their long wing-like fins. This peculiar ability to fly fish helps them in defence mechanism by escaping away from predators. The term Exocoetidae is both the scientific name and general name of this fish. They live in all oceans but prefer tropical and warm subtropical water. These fishes are commonly found in the epipelagic zone of ocean i.e. in the region of 200 metres from the top layer. It is often called as a “sunlight zone” because mostly sunlight exists here. The fish can spent a time duration of 45-50 seconds in flight. They fly with a speed of 70 km/hr and they can go at an altitude of 6 metres from the ocean level. They live in a zone where they have to continuously fight for their survival as the “sunlight” zone is the most active zone where the majority of water animals live.
One of the best flying animals, Bats are the mammals of order Chiroptera and are more manoeuvrable than birds. The smallest bat Kitti’s hog-nosed bat which is 29-34 mm in length and 15 cm across the wings. While the largest bats are flying foxes which can weigh 1.6 kg and a wingspan of 1.7 metres. Bats have 1200 species of all over the world and are the second largest order of mammal. Bats are broadly classified into two sub-categories – the fruit-eating megabats and the echolocating microbats. Most of the bats are insectivorous but some are frugivores. There are few species of bats which feed on blood like a vampire bat. The dung of bats can be used as fertilisers. Since bats feed on insects so their availability reduces the need for pesticides. They are even served as food on the Pacific rim and some parts of Asia.
3. Flying Squirrels
They cannot fly just like birds but they can glide from one tree to another by the aid of a patagium, a furry parachute-like membrane that stretches from neck to ankle. They have long tails which provide stability during flight. They can steer and control their glide path with the help of their limbs and tails. They use their wing tips to control their aerodynamic angles. Molecular studies tell us that flying squirrels are monophyletic and they have originated some 18 to 20 million years ago. Flying squirrels live only for 6 years but if they kept at the zoo with full care and protection the can survive up to 15 years.
Image Source: cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Peter Trimming – geograph.org.uk/p/4272215
Condor is a largest flying bird and one of the best flying animals in the world belonging to monotypic Genus. Condor is a common name for new world vultures. The California condors are the largest flying birds in America. In terms of wingspan Andean condor is second after the wandering albatross. Their plumage is black coloured with few frills of white feather surrounding the neck. The colour of the neck varies with their age. Andean condor has a larger wingspan ranging from 275 to 310 cm and average weight for a male is 11 to 15 kg while females weigh 7.5 to 11 kg. They have a mean lifespan of 50 years and above. Sexual maturity and breeding behaviour appears after 6 to 7 years. Andean Condor is one of the largest birds in the world.
5. Flying Snakes
Chrysopelea is a commonly known as flying snake or gliding space, belongs to the family Colubridae. They are mildly venomous snakes. Their range is mainly in South East Asia, India, China and Sri Lanka. It uses ridge scales along its belly to climb by pushing it against rough bark surface of tree trunks. On reaching the top of the tree, it bends its body for proper inclination according to the destination selected by a snake. They are better gliders than flying squirrels despite they lack limb wings. They can glide over a distance of 100 metres in a forest. They are day hunters and prey upon lizards, dogs, birds and bats. Only five recognised species of flying snake have been found in the region ranging from India to Indonesia. Though their diet varies from place to place they usually prey on lizards, birds and bats. Also, read about largest living snakes in the world.
Image Source: Wikimedia
6. Flying lizards
Draco genus of agamid lizards that common name as flying lizards, flying dragons or gliding lizards. Flying lizards are found in the forest of South East Asia. These lizards use their ribs and their connecting membrane may be extended to create ‘wings’. Their hind limbs are flattened and are wing like in cross-section, and a flap on the neck helps them for horizontal stabilization. Though they cannot have powered flight oftentimes they can lift themselves during the course of the flight. Glides of 60 metres have been recorded over which animal loses 10 metres in height. The only time female flying lizards ventures on the ground is when they have to lay eggs. They make a nest on the tree she lives. She last 2 to 5 eggs at a time and guard it for 24 hours. After 24 hours she nothing to do with her offspring.
7. Flying Foxes
A megabat belonging to the genus Pteropus, Megachiropetra are the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as flying foxes or fruit bats. They live in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia including Indian Subcontinent, Australia, Africa and East Africa. From the fossil fuel records these bats are exactly same as they were millions of years ago with a difference of flying tails which they have earlier but now they lack it. The oldest Megachiropetran is said to be 35 million years ago but the preceding gap in the fossil record makes the true lineage unknown. However, the Studies have supported that the old world bats share lineage with New World bats. The large flying foxes have a wingspan of 1.5 metres. As the name suggests the head resembles that of a small fox because of the small ears and large eyes.
Eagle are large powerful birds and is the common name for many large birds of the family Accipitridae. About 60 species of Eagles are found in Eurasia and Africa. Rest 14 species can be found like – 2 in North America, 9 in central and South America and 3 in Australia. Most of the eagles are larger than any other raptors except for some vultures. Like all other birds of prey, eagles have very large hooked beaks for ripping flesh from their prey. Eagle’s eyes are very powerful and have a visual acuity of 3.0 to 3.6 times that of a human. This ability helps eagle to spot its prey from very far distances. Golden Eagle is one of the fastest birds in the world.
Parrots are birds having 393 species in 92 genera, that makes up the order Pisittaciformes. Parrots are found in tropical and subtropical regions. The order Pisittaciformes is divided into 3 superfamilies – the Pisittacoidea (“true” parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Stigopoidea ( New Zealand parrots). Almost all parrots make a nest in tree hollows and lay white eggs. Parrots like Ravens, crows and Jays are considered to be most intelligent birds. The quality of parrots to intimate human voices enhances their popularity as pets. Some parrots have a strong and direct flight. They often use their bills for climbing by gripping. On the ground, parrots walk with a rolling gait. Also, read about beautiful parrots in the world.
10. Japanese Flying Squid
Japanese flying squid or Pacific flying squid is a squid of the family Ommastrephidae. It is native to the northern Pacific Ocean, near Japan, along with the entire coast of China up to Russia. Flying squid have been observed to cover distances as long as 30 metres above the surface of the water and one of the best flying animals in the world. Japanese flying squid is caught throughout the year but the largest and most popular seasons are from January to March and again from June to September. United State is the biggest importer of Squid fishes. Young squids fees on phytoplankton while the grown squids feed on small fishes.
These are the flying animals in the world. Do post your comments.