Filed under: Environment, History, Latin America, Science/Technology | Tags: A Previously Unknown Species, Member of the Raccoon Family, The Olinguito
The Smithsonian announced the discovery of a new animal species last Thursday. They have named the two-pound, two-and-a-half-foot-long carnivore from the Andes mountains of Ecuador and Columbia the olinguito. The first time in 35 years a new carnivorous mammal has been discovered.
It is a member of the raccoon family and is described as looking like “a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear.”They have been around, in quantity, but they live in the treetops of the Andean cloud forests, mostly at night. Preserved samples, mostly skulls or furs, were in museum collections, but mislabeled. The olinguito (pronounced oh-lin-GHEE-toe) have long tails, reddish-brown fur, and very long sharp claws.
New species of insects, reptiles or birds are found on expeditions to the wilder places, but it is unusual to find a new mammal — or at least a living species distinct from other known species. There may be other unrecognized species lurking in museums, improperly labeled. The more we know about the world’s species, the more we can care for their survival.
( Mark Gurney)