Meet olinguito, the new mammal discovery
A small creature that looks like a cross between a house cat and teddy bear has become the first new carnivore species discovered in the Americas in 35 years.
The Smithsonian Institution said on Thursday the new species had been mistaken for similar mammals in the Procyonidae family, which includes raccoons, for decades, and that a team of Smithsonian scientists identified it from overlooked museum specimens and trips to Ecuador.
“The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed,” said Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington.
The olinguito weighs about two pounds, is the smallest member of the raccoon family, has large eyes, orange-brown fur, and is found only in the cloud forests of the northern Andes, according to the Smithsonian.