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

  • Department of Good Stuff
    […]
  • Why people hate the federal government
    Take Part - Out with the cupcakes, in with the fruit cups.At least that’s what the USDA envisioned when it came up with the “Smart Snacks in School” standards as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The guidelines—which set rules for treats sold on K–12 campuses outside the cafeteria during school hours, or “competitive foods”—went into effect […]
  • Why you shouldn't vote for a corporate executive
    Sam Smith - There is a widespread myth that corporate executives are exquisitely prepared to run other things, like community organizations, states or our nation.  This is a myth broadly enabled by large corporate media but it makes little sense. Here's why:Corporate executives can fire people, move them to new jobs, promote or demote them. You can […]
  • Preserving a Jewish state or the Jewish soul?
    From 50 years of our overstocked archivesSam Smith, 2006 - Vigdor Lieberman that nasty member of the Israel cabinet, wants to get rid of the Arabs so his country can remain a Jewish state. It's not a new idea; shoving Arabs around helped Israel get started. And it didn't work all that well. Fifty years of misery as the Israelis and the Arabs compet […]
  • Mid and late career teachers underpaid
    Center for American Progress: Mid- and late-career teacher base salaries are painfully low in many states. In Colorado, teachers with a graduate degree and 10 years of experience make less than a trucker in the state. In Oklahoma, teachers with 15 years of experience and a master’s degree make less than sheet metal workers. And teachers in Georgia with 10 ye […]
  • Photo of the day
    L'Osservatore Romano photo of Pope having lunch with Vatican workers […]
  • Stupid Washington Post tricks
    James Zogby, Arab American Institute - As the Israeli ground offensive was beginning, the [Washington] Post featured a front page headline, in large type, reading "Two Israelis Killed in Gaza Clash." In smaller type there was a subhead, "Death toll tops 330 as Hamas militants step up attacks." The story began, "Hamas militants intens […]
  • Furthermore. . .
    Gaza death toll now over 1,000Top Palestinian officials have accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, filing a complaint Friday to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. […]
  • 2500 Ground Zero responders have come down with cancer
    NY Post - More than 2,500 Ground Zero rescuers and responders have come down with cancer, and a growing number are seeking compensation for their illnesses, The Post has learned.The grim toll has skyrocketed from the 1,140 cancer cases reported last year.In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responder […]
  • Millenials down on marriage
    Alternet - | In a new Pew poll, researchers asked people of all ages how they felt about marriage and having kids. One question asked if society is better off if people made these goals a priority.....For respondents over 65, a strong 61 percent said yes, it’s in society’s best interest to prioritize marriage and kids. But that number gradually declined for […]
  • A bipartisan cause: universal income
    David Atkins, Washington Monthly -  One of the beautiful things about universal basic income: it has legitimate cross-partisan appeal, even if it seems wacky at first glance to centrists (who are often the very last people to recognize a good policy idea when they see one.)To a conservative, a direct money grant is an opportunity to shed cumbersome governmen […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    Unfortunately, complex failing systems have little capacity to save themselves. In part this is because the solutions come from the same source as the problem. The public rarely questions the common provenance; official Washington and the media honor it. Even a failure as miserable as that of Vietnam had little effect on the careers of its major protagonists […]
  • Word
    I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations -- James Madison […]
  • Mid East paradigms
    From 50 years of our overstocked archivesIsrael is a state like all the rest. AIPAC is just another political group like the National Rifle Association. It is not a religion but one more Washington lobby corrupting the political process and making American voters less powerful. The policy of the Israeli government is clearly distinguishable from the theology […]
  • Bringing politics home
    From 50 years of our overstocked archivesSam Smith[From Shadows of Hope, 1994]In 1816, Columbus, Ohio, had one city councilmember for every hundred residents. By 1840 there was one for every thousand residents. By 1872 the figure had dwindled to one to every five thousand. By 1974, there was one councilmember for every 55,000 people.The first US congressiona […]