New Mammal Discovered!
— New species are discovered every year, although many of them are insects. Now insects don’t quite do it for me, and I tend to become far more excited about the discovery of a higher animal, especially a mammal, since I happen to be one myself! What’s been identified is the olinguito, which resembles a mini-raccoon with a teddy bear face, and is almost unbelievably cute. The creature is indigenous to the rain forests of South America, and found in countries such as Ecuador and Columbia. Running about 14 inches long with an equally long tail and and rust-colored fur and weighing in at about two pounds, the olinguito escaped classification for so many years owing to its nocturnal and tree-dwelling habits, and the fact that it was confused with the olingo, a larger and distinctive sister species.
The National Zoo in Washington actually housed an olinguito for a year, mistaking it for an olingo and expecting it to breed with them, which it sensibly refused to do. The species has accordingly been hiding in plain sight for some time! Looking like a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat, this smallest member of the raccoon family certainly possesses the “awww” factor!