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Flying Squirrel Photobomb Leads to New Discovery

In Northern Wisconsin, a flying squirrel photobombing the shots of a college student from Northland turned to lead to something wonderful.

Unlike other photobombs which are sometimes funny or annoying, this time it resulted in a discovery of a new amphibian species.

Madison Laughlin, a college student from Edmonds, Washington, got help from a photobombing squirrel to document her recorded observation of a tree frog. It set the highest recorded observation of the species, doubled the last record. The photo of the tree frog was taken at almost 70 feet above the ground. This documentation was then published in the May issue of the scientific journal, Ecology.

Laughlin is a senior college student studying natural resources and geology. In her observation, it seems that the tree frog documented was able to survive the sun during daytime by hiding in shady spots to cover itself.

Laughlin, along with her tree-climbing professors set up three motion sensitive cameras to conduct the study. They positioned the cameras to three white pines to have the perfect view of life at the top of the trees. As the study was being conducted, they documented 17 different species inhabiting the top of the trees. They discovered squirrels, mice, birds, tree frogs and a variety of insects. They’ve also seen certain mushroom and lichen species.

Tree frogs are small in size, and their temperature is same to their environment. That’s why they won’t set off the motion sensitive cameras. But hey, thanks to the flying squirrels! They were able to capture tree frogs in four different occasions with the squirrel’s photobombing skills!

Who could’ve guessed that an innocent squirrel photobomber can lead something so great about science and nature? According to Erik Olson, it was literally research in the backyard. Also, this is one of the awesome things about science. You don’t need to go far to discover something new. Sometimes, wonderful things are just waiting to be discovered even in your own backyard.

Laughlin stated that there aren’t many studies conducted on tree frogs, aside from how they breed. With this study, she hopes that it’ll open a new door to the vertical dimension of habitat. This study proves that there’s more life at the top of the trees.

As of this writing, Laughlin and her team are doing more intensive research about tree frogs. They’re studying the reason why tree frogs go as high as 70 feet above the ground. They also hope to find answers on the habitat usage of other species up there.

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