Categorized | Environment, Media

Adorable New Species of Mammal Discovered

 

Meet the Olinguito:  Newest Animal Discovered in 35 Years

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

(Yahoo News/YouTube)–  It’s so cute it’s hard to resist, let
alone overlook.  But somehow science did overlook it — until now.

Researchers announced today a rare discovery of a new species of mammal called the olinguito.  The reddish-brown animal is about 2 feet long with a long tail and weighs about 2 pounds.  Imagine a mini-raccoon with a teddy bear face and you get the picture.

It belongs to a grouping of large creatures that include dogs, cats and bears.

The critter leaps through the trees of mountainous forests of Ecuador and Colombia at night, according to a Smithsonian researcher who has spent the past decade tracking them.  The discovery is described in a study in the journal ZooKey.

But the adorable olinguito shouldn’t have been too hard to find.  One of them once lived in the Smithsonian-run National Zoo in Washington for a year in a case of mistaken identity.

“It’s been kind of hiding in plain sight for a long time” despite its extraordinary beauty, said Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian’s curator of mammals.

The little zoo critter, named Ringerl, was mistaken for a sister species, the olingo. Before she died in 1976, Ringerl was shipped from zoo to zoo in Louisville, Ky., Tucson, Ariz., Salt Lake City, Washington and New York City to try to get it to breed with other olingos.

Except she wouldn’t and never did.  “It turns out she wasn’t fussy,” Helgen said.  ”She just wasn’t the right species.”

Helgen first figured olinguitos were different from olingos when he was looking at pelts and skeletons in a museum.  He later led a team to South America in 2006.

“When we went to the field we found it the very first night,” said study co-author Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  ”It was almost like it was waiting for us.”

It’s hard to figure how olingos and onlinguitos were confused for each other.  “How is it different? In almost every way that you can look at it,” Helgen said.

Olinguitos are smaller, have shorter tails, a rounder face, tinier ears and darker bushier fur, he said.  “It looks kind of like a fuzzball … kind of like a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat,” Helgen said.

It eats fruit and has one baby at a time.  Helgen figures there are thousands of olinguitos in the mountainous forest, traveling through the trees at night which makes them hard to see.

While new species are found regularly, usually they are tiny things like insects and not mammals, the warm-blooded advanced class of animals that have hair, live births and mammary glands in females.

Outside experts said this discovery not merely renaming something, but a genuine new species — with three new subspecies — and a significant find, the type that hasn’t happened for about 35 years.

“Most people believe there are no new species to discover, particularly of relatively large charismatic animals,” said Case Western Reserve University anatomy professor Darin Croft.  ”This study demonstrates that this is clearly not the case.”

The olinguito is the smallest member of the raccoon family of mammals.

The researchers only saw olinguitos in Ecuador and Colombia, but they said they could also be living in parts of Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Guyana, based on their cloud forest habitat.  The olingo is also native to Central and South America.

The North Carolina museum is already selling olinguito stuffed animals for about $15.  Proceeds will benefit habitat preservation for the creatures.

Perhaps there’s hope finding another elusive species evading science:  Bigfoot.

* * * * * * * *

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

One Response to “Adorable New Species of Mammal Discovered”

  1. Steve Lewis says:

    This is great! As a young teen I had a friend kinkajou at the Santa Barbara Museum’s little tiny zoo. You weren’t supposed to touch the animals and this one I was warned was particularly nasty with people. But he or she liked me, I usually get along with most animals, being one myself as exes will attest. Anyway, this kinkajou’s fur was the softest pelt I’ve ever felt, softer than mink, for sure, and he looked more like this new species, olinguito, than a racoon or that other Mexican snout-nosed one I’m too lazy to look up here. A new species under our noses. Bigfoot…isn’t that where one of your lower extremities ends up in your mouth?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • The 9 Senate Democrats who voted for the Keystone pipeline
    National Journal1. Michael Bennet, Colo.2. Thomas Carper, Del.3. Robert Casey, Pa.4. Joe Donnelly, Ind.5. Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.6. Joe Manchin, W. Va.7. Claire McCaskill, Mo.8. Jon Tester, Mont.9. Mark Warner, Va. […]
  • NYPD to treat protestors like terrorists
    Vox - New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton unveiled a new militarized police unit that will be trained and armed with heavy protective gear, long rifles, and machine guns to restrain terrorists and social justice protesters.Bratton explained the purpose of the unit, which will consist of 350 officers, to CBS New York:It is designed for dealing with even […]
  • About Michelle Obama's lack of headscarve in Saudi Arabia
    VoxAmerican officials in Saudi Arabia typically do not wear headscarves, including at formal government functions. Michelle was following normal protocol.Former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton did not wear headscarves on similar official visits to Saudi Arabia. Neither did former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.Saudi Arabia is officially ultr […]
  • And now some true words about the war on terror from a former FBI official
    If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the war on terror and everything’s great,’ cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ K […]
  • Metaphor of the day
    Sam Smith - I have recently have become conscious of something about the civil rights movement that I hadn't noticed before: not just the role of churches in the effort, but how their culture influenced the movement by creating congregations of like minded souls. Modern progressive movements are far more atomized for a number of reasons, including the f […]
  • Are we too hygIenic?
    Vox - Over the past few decades, doctors have arrived at a counterintuitive hypothesis about our modern, ultra-sanitized world. Too much cleanliness may be causing us to develop allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases, and other autoimmune disorders.The idea is that for many children in the wealthy world, a lack of exposure to bacteria, viruses, and a […]
  • AG nominee Loretta Lynch is a rightwinger on some key issues
    NY Times - On matters of policy, Ms. Lynch called capital punishment “an effective penalty” and said she disagreed with Mr. Obama’s statements that marijuana was no more harmful than alcohol. She called the National Security Agency’s collection of American phone records “certainly constitutional, and effective.” […]
  • Obama's AG nominee perpetuates anti-marijuana myth
    Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post -  Loretta Lynch, President Obama's nominee for attorney general, disagrees with him on marijuana. That weed is not safer than alcohol might have been the most controversial thing she said during her confirmation hearing Wednesday. As Danny Vinik notes, polls show that large majorities of Americans believe that alcohol i […]
  • How NAFTA hurt America
    John Conyers, Huffington Post  - Twenty years ago, as the North American Free Trade Agreement was coming into force, the nation had high hopes. The trade pact's backers promised tens of thousands of new high-paying jobs, lower prices for consumers, and an export-driven renaissance for American manufacturing.NAFTA's legacy, tragically, bears no rese […]
  • Who can use a car pool lane?
    Lowering the Bar -  Some time ago we learned that the argument "but I am pregnant" is probably not a valid defense if you get a ticket for using the HOV lane. More recently we learned that even after the Citizens United case, an HOV-lane ticket also can't be avoided by pointing to the corporate papers you have been keeping in your front seat f […]
  • Castro wants Gitmo back
    BBC - There are still several hurdles for Barack Obama and Raul Castro to clearCuba has demanded the US hand back the Guantanamo Bay military base before relations with Washington are normalized.In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba's removal from a terror list.Last month the two countries announ […]
  • Six reasons to support ranked choice voting
    Dick Woodbury, Bangor Daily News, ME - First, the finally elected candidate is chosen by a majority of voters.Second, there is no such thing as a spoiler candidate. If a candidate turns out not to be electable, then he or she is eliminated in the counting process. The candidate doesn’t “spoil” the result by taking away votes from somebody else.Third, voters […]
  • Ecology links
    NEWS Climate change Ecology & nature Energy Food Population Sustain yourself Climate change indicators Drought Eco shots Fracking Genetically modified crops Oceans & water Population statistics   ESSAYS The value of stone dust Myths of genetic engineering A poker player's guide to ecological risk assessment The ignored greenness of historic Popu […]
  • Word
    One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptio […]
  • One in five American kids on food stamps
    Huffington Post - One in 5 American kids got food stamps in 2014, up from 1 in 8 before the recession. About 16 million kids relied on the U.S. government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2014, according to Census Bureau data released Wednesday, up from 15.6 million a year earlier. In 2007, before the start of the Great Recession, that fig […]