Olinguito: ‘Overlooked’ mammal carnivore is major discovery | BBC News


Scientists in the US have discovered a new animal living in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador.

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.

Written By: Jane O’Brien
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk


  1. ” And scientists now believe an olinguito was exhibited in several zoos in the US between 1967 and 1976. Its keepers mistook it for an olinga – a close relative – and could not understand why it would not breed. It was sent to a number of different zoos but died without being properly identified “

    I wonder if several zoo directors are feeling a bit foolish these days!

    Of course hindsight is 20/20.

  2. It looks pretty damn cute. I always naively thought most species were discovered by Archie Carresque scientists stumbling around the jungle, but this makes a whole lot more sense.

  3. There was a young olinguito/
    Who came from the hills above Quito/
    He toured US zoos/
    To gasps, cheers and boos/
    But alas, he went incognito.

  4. Got to admit to being slightly disappointed. I thought it was going to be a story about a newly discovered mammal, not a newly discovered clerical error.

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