The result―the newest species of mammal known to science, the olinguito ( Bassaricyon neblina) (Photo by Mark Gurney). The olinguito. Genus: Bassaricyon Species: Bassaricyon neblina Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the. Genus, Bassaricyon. Species, Bassaricyon neblina. Taxon author, Kristofer M. Helgen, Roland Kays, Lauren Helgen, Mirian T. N. Tsuchiya.
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A team of Smithsonian scientists, however, uncovered overlooked museum specimens of this remarkable animal, which took hassaricyon on a journey from museum cabinets in Chicago to cloud forests in South America to genetics labs in Washington, D.
A team, led by Smithsonian scientist Kristofer Helgen, spent 10 years examining hundreds of museum specimens and tracking animals in the wild in the cloud forests of Ecuador.
The olinguito oh-lin-GHEE-toe looks like a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear. It is actually the latest scientifically documented nassaricyon of the family Procyonidae, which it shares with raccoons, coatis, kinkajous and olingos.
Documenting them is the first step toward understanding the full richness and diversity of life on Earth. The olinguito Bassaricyon neblina came close to being discovered several times during the past century and was even exhibited in zoos. For example, this female olinguito lived in bassxricyon zoos in the U.
The problem was a case of mistaken identity, which was solved with a decade of detective work by Smithsonian scientist Kristofer Helgen and his team, resulting in the description of a new species. Discovering a new species of carnivore, however, does not happen overnight. This information, however, was coming from overlooked olinguito specimens collected in the early 20th century.
Smithsonian scientists discover new carnivore: the olinguito | Smithsonian Insider
The question Helgen and his team wanted bassaicyon answer next was: Does the olinguito still exist in the wild? The olinguito is so far known only from cloud forest habitats in Colombia and Ecuador, but future investigations might show that it occurs in similar habitats in other South American countries.
The team had a lucky break that started with a camcorder video. Because the olinguito was new to science, it was imperative for the scientists to record every aspect of the animal.
They learned that the olinguito is mostly active at night, is mainly a fruit eater, rarely comes out of the trees and has one baby at a time.
The team estimated that 42 percent of historic olinguito habitat has already been converted to agriculture or urban areas.
The olinguito mainly eats fruit, but may also eat some insects and nectar. Photo by Mark Gurney. While the olinguito is new to science, it is not a stranger to people. And while misidentified, specimens have been in museums for more than years, and at least one olinguito from Colombia was exhibited in several zoos in the United States during neblinx s and s.
There were even several occasions during the past century when the olinguito came neblima to being discovered but was not. Ina zoologist in New York thought an olinguito museum specimen was so unusual that it might be a new species, but he never followed through in publishing the discovery. Giving the olinguito its scientific name is just the beginning. This is a beautiful animal, but we know so little about it.
Smithsonian scientists discover new carnivore: the olinguito
How many countries does it live in? What else can we learn about its behavior? What do we need to do to ensure its conservation? The olinguito is the smallest member of the raccoon family.
It has thick, woolly bassarricyon that is denser and more colorful orange or reddish brown than its closest relatives, the olingos.
Its head and body length is 14 inches long mmplus a tail inches in length mmand it weighs 2 pounds grams. Males and females are similar in size. These solitary animals live in trees and are mostly nocturnal.
It is an adept jumper that can leap from tree to tree in the forest canopy. Mothers raise a single baby at a time.
The olinguito is found only in cloud forests of the northern Andes Mountains. Colombiaconservation biologyEcuadorendangered speciesmammalsNational Museum of Natural Historynew speciesSouth America. Search search text submit search.
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