It has been named olinguito and is the first new species of carnivore to be identified in the Western hemisphere in 35 years.
It has taken more than a decade to identify the mammal, a discovery that scientists say is incredibly rare in the 21st Century.
The credit goes to a team from the Smithsonian Institution.
The trail began when zoologist Kristofer Helgen uncovered some bones and animal skins in storage at a museum in Chicago.
"It stopped me in my tracks," he told BBC News. "The skins were a rich red colour and when I looked at the skulls I didn't recognise the anatomy. It was different to any similar animal I'd seen, and right away I thought it could be a species new to science."
Dr Helgen is curator of mammals at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, which houses the largest mammal collection in the world.
More than 600,000 specimens are flat-packed in trays to save space, their bones picked clean by specially bred beetles and stored in boxes alongside their skins.