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The squirrels measure up to 36 inches from head to tail The multi-hued, three-foot-long squirrels currently taking the internet by storm are no Photoshopped mythical creatures. As Jason Bittel reports for National Geographic , the colorful four-pound critters—enjoying a renewed burst of attention thanks to a series of snapshots posted on Instagram by amateur photographer Kaushik Vijayan —not only roam the forests of southern India, but also, in the words of wildlife conservation biologist John Koprowski , look “exactly” like the majestic orange-, purple- and maroon-colored animals seen on Vijayan’s feed. (Give or take a few filters, that is: Evolutionary biologist Dana Krempels points out that the photographer may have enhanced the squirrels’ natural coloring by applying a “vibrance” setting.) Officially known as Ratufa indica , or the Malabar giant squirrel , the species is one of four relatively hefty rodents in the squirrel family. “The four species that make up this group are fascinating in their large size, brilliant coloration, and penchant for feeding on some of the massive tropical fruits in the tree canopy,” Koprowski tells Bittel. Although these companions match the Malabar squirrel in sheer mass, they have decidedly less technicolor coats: Ratufa affinis , found […]

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