Turns out flying squirrels can fly while holding giant pine cones

A while back, DARPA took an interest in computer-controlling bugs; on the creepy-but-sensible premise that Team Neurology would probably manage to bodge on electrodes in the right places faster and cheaper than Team Robotics would replicate the small aircraft performance achieved by insects.

Mammalian subjects might be more of a squeamishness risk; but based on the number of seriously sneaky tricks employed by these squirrels, and their ability to carry a payload, it wouldn’t surprise me if the same logic would apply.

Certainly couldn’t work worse than bat bombs, right?

(And, in all seriousness, a weaponized squirrel could be pretty damn scary if the technical limitations could be overcome. They’d be naturals as wooded-area surveillance mechanisms; and given that they are nearly silent, visually unobtrusive, and capable of carrying surprisingly large payloads and executing long, controlled, glides, they could also be quite dangerous. As the unpleasant history of land mines demonstrated, a few tens of grams of explosives are enough to really ruin your day if delivered precisely; and a squirrel could do that, silently, potentially after skulking around in the foliage for hours or days.)


I never saw the flying squirrels until my late teens when we installed a motion activated porch light. Mom always had to have her bird feeder in the winter and those little buggers liked to visit it a night. I swear that they calibrated their glides to maximize our dog’s frustration as they buzzed just above his head.


Are you suggesting that pinecones migrate?
Not at all. They could be carried.
What? A flying squirrel carrying a pinecone?
It could grip it by the husk!


Not a flying squirrel but I once lived in a house with two pine trees outside the back door, one taller than the other. There was a jay that used to jump off the taller one and try to reach the top of the other one without flapping its wings. On one occasion it practised this for the best part of an hour. If it succeeded - i.e. landed from a pure glide - it would then flap its wings a bit and repeat the process.


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