Photos © Mark Gurney
For all of modern history, a small, carnivorous South American mammal in the raccoon family has evaded the scientific community. Untold thousands of these red, furry creatures scampered through the trees of the Andean cloud forests, but they did so at night, hidden by dense fog. Nearly two dozen preserved samples—mostly skulls or furs— were mislabeled in museum collections across the United States. There’s even evidence that one individual lived in several American zoos during the 1960s—its keepers were mystified as to why it refused to breed with its peers.
Now, the discovery of the olinguito has solved the mystery. At an announcement today in Washington, D.C., Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, presented anatomical and DNA evidence that establish the olinguito (pronounced oh-lin-GHEE-toe) as a living species distinct from other known olingos, carnivorous tree-dwelling mammals native to Central and South America. His team’s work, also published today in the journal ZooKeys, represents the first discovery of a new carnivorous mammal species in the American continents in more than three decades.
Read the full story at Smithsonian.com.
But how did it take this long?
Oh hey buddy!
The life and times of Lonesome George
Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta island giant tortoises and a conservation icon, has died of unknown causes. He was believed to be about 100 years old. He was found in 1972 and become a symbol of the Galápagos Islands. His species helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th century
I visited this big guy when I was 10. RIP.
Two stranded dolphins wait to be rescued at Herring River in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. More than 110 common dolphins have been stranded on Cape Cod shores in the last week in a development that has baffled scientists