Imagine a small raccoon who has a teddy bear-like face that is so cute that it’s simply impossible to resist, let alone overlook. But somehow science did – until now.
Thursday saw an announement that a group of researhes found a new species of mammal whih was later dubbed “olinguito”. The orange-furred beast is about 14-inches long with an equally long tail and weighs about 2 pounds.
The olinguito, which is also named Bassaricyon neblina, has a pair large eyes and lives in the jungles of Colombia and Ecuador, reports The Telegraph.
According to Kristofer Helgen, a Smithsonian scientist who recognized it as a distinct species 10 years ago, the disoered mammal is the smallest member of the raccoon family.
The “aha” moment took plae not in forest somewhere on the South of the coiuntry but at Chicago’s Field Museum, the creature’s discoverer, Helgen revealed to reporters.
“I pulled out a drawer … and said ‘Wow,'” Helgen recalled of his first view of a long-dead 20th century specimen, which had been identified as a related species, the olingo. “It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.”
“When we went to the field we found it in the very first night,” said study co-author Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “It was almost like it was waiting for us.”
The scientist said the teeth and skull of the small beast were much different from those which were consedered to be typical one of an olingo, which is larger and has more prominent ears than the olinguito.
He went on, adding that he could have uneiled the finding in a scientific journal, but he was too interested and too busy to do that as he sought out colleagues to confirm the existence of the new species in its natural habitat.
“Olinguitos are considered carnivores, even though they eat mostly fruit, Helgen said. These creatures have teeth that look fully capable of eating meat,” The Chicago Tribune writes.
“They have thick, woolly fur that is brighter than that of the more drab-colored Olingos. Olinguitos are about 2.5 feet (.76 meter) long and weigh about 2 pounds (900 grams). Males and females are about the same size, and females raise a single baby at a time,” the scientists said.
Of course, new species of animals are found regularly, but as a rule they are small things like insects and not mammals, the warm-blooded advanced class of animals that have hair, live births and mammary glands in females.
Meanwhile, experts claim that the founding is not merely renaming something, but a brand new species whih inlude three new subspecies. It’s the type of significant find that hasn’t happened in the U.S. for about 35 years.
“Most people believe there are no new species to discover, particularly of relatively large charismatic animals,” said Case Western Reserve University anatomy professor Darin Croft. “This study demonstrates that this is clearly not the case.”
Kristofer Helgen said: “The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed.”
“If new carnivores can still be found, what other surprises await us? So many of the world’s species are not yet known to science. Documenting them is the first step toward understanding the full richness and diversity of life on Earth,” the head of the study concluded.