Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce the olinguito!
August 15, 2013 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Via the Smithsonian: For the first time in 35 years, a new carnivorous mammal species has been discovered in the American Continents. Native to the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, the olinguito is the newest member of the raccoon family.

According to the Washington Post, the mammal was described by the Smithsonian as "a fuzzball... kind of like a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat." The oliguito already has a Wikipedia entry.

More from the Smithsonian article:

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.
posted by flyingsquirrel (26 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
So we're all in agreement that this animal was not "discovered" but actually genetically engineered to create a new source of cute because of the increased demand placed on the Global Strategic Cute Reserves by the Internet, right?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:38 AM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I want to say it passes my eeeeeee! test, but those eyes are strangely piercing...
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:38 AM on August 15, 2013


I was just reading about this! My favorite part is the end of the CNN article about it which says what your post does but slightly differently.
The wife of the animal's keeper told Helgen, "We always thought there was something strange about that olingo," he said.

She told Helgen this particular animal moved from zoo to zoo because she wouldn't breed with the olingos around her.

"It wasn't because she was fussy, it was because she was not at all even the same species," Helgen said.

With the olinguito research announcement, the oddball animal's aloofness has been vindicated.
posted by jessamyn at 9:44 AM on August 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


The eyes...they follow you.
posted by Kitteh at 9:45 AM on August 15, 2013


The olinguito is a carnivore, but the term has two meanings in biology. The most familiar is an animal that eats meat, but the other is any animal that belongs to the order Carnivora, which includes cats, dogs, tigers, bears and others. They are not all meat eaters, and the olinguito mostly eats fruit.
Guardian
posted by snaparapans at 9:45 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know... it's a little too possum like to trip my cute-meter.
posted by maryr at 9:53 AM on August 15, 2013


This is some New Game+ stuff for Mark Brown.
posted by boo_radley at 9:54 AM on August 15, 2013


I wonder what it tastes like.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:57 AM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is already being considered to be included in the local culinary dishes of Colombia and Ecuador as "wild meat".
posted by de at 9:57 AM on August 15, 2013


Oh it is such a cranky looking guy!
posted by zscore at 9:57 AM on August 15, 2013


I found out about this from, uh, Ranger Rick.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:00 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, you just saved me some time, Sr. Flyingsquirrel, so here's the rest of my proposed FPP, from the same science news cycle:

Cambodian Tailorbird, Orthotomus chaktomuk, a species of bird that is completely new to science has been discovered, hiding in plain sight in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.

A new species of the mysterious "Hero Shrew" has been discovered in Africa. Scientists have determined that the creature's name is Ghidorah Scutisorex thori. Its unique interlocking vertebrae -- it has twice the number of lower vertebrae humans do and a spine four times more robust relative to its body size -- give it the strength to move large objects. (Let's hope it never teams up with the Myxozoa).
 

posted by Herodios at 10:15 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Very cool, Herodios! I welcome our newly discovered mammal species overlords.

BTW, it's Srta. Flyingsquirrel, soon to be Sra. ;-)
posted by flyingsquirrel at 10:26 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what it tastes like.

Like chicken, natch.

I used to have a cat who'd try to mate with a teddy bear about the same size as he was. Now I know what their offspring might have looked like if his efforts had been successful.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:29 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are not all meat eaters, and the olinguito mostly eats fruit.

Hmmm...hmmm. So...what's their position on nuts?
posted by yoink at 10:42 AM on August 15, 2013


I found out about this from, uh, Ranger Rick.

You just reminded me that Ranger Rick still exists, which makes me weirdly happy for some reason.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:51 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Other kids used to make fun of me for reading Ranger Rick.


Those kids were wrong.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:57 AM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had a Ranger Rick backpack.
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]



BTW, it's Srta. Flyingsquirrel, soon to be Sra. ;-)

Appy polly loggies, and congrats. (I usually check profiles, first, but I'm a bit pressed today.)
 
posted by Herodios at 11:07 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know... it's a little too possum like to trip my cute-meter.

This line does not make sense.

I feel sorry for the critter in the zoo. It was probably ostracized and made fun of by all the other olingos, not allowed to play in olingo games...

I do think it looks awesome, tho'.
posted by Atreides at 11:49 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


That thing is unfairly adorable.
posted by Akhu at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2013


The end of that Smithsonian article is something worth keeping in mind:
"...The researchers, though, want the olinguito to help reverse this process. “We hope that by getting people excited about a new and charismatic animal, we can call attention to these cloud forest habitats,” Helgen said. Solving other mysteries of the natural world requires leaving these habitats intact. “The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed.”"
posted by Kevin Street at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2013


aka Bassaricyon Neblina... lost in the fog
posted by snaparapans at 1:07 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh it is such a cranky looking guy!

I imagine you'd be cranky too if people kept calling you the wrong species .
posted by mcrandello at 6:00 PM on August 15, 2013


I - and many others like me - would not hesitate to purchase coffee beans that have passed through this animal's digestive system! Is that too much to ask?
posted by zaelic at 6:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently Kristopher Helgen, the discoverer of the olinguito, just did an AMA over on Reddit.
posted by darksasami at 11:43 AM on August 16, 2013


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