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New carnivore species found

Tiny olingo species dubbed 'olinguito'

11:30am, August 15, 2013

MEAT EATER  The olinguito, shown here, is the first newly discovered carnivore in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.

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Shrouded in the mist of an Andean cloud forest, the first newly discovered carnivore in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years rarely leaves its treetop home.

Smithsonian researchers stumbled upon Bassaricyon neblina, also known as the “olinguito,” while riffling through museum specimens and old field notes in search of information about other members of the Bassaricyon genus—commonly known as olingos.

Described August 15 in ZooKeys, the olinguito weighs just 2 pounds and resides at 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level, making the orange-and-brown tree dweller the smallest and highest-venturing of the olingo species.

Misidentified until now, olinguito specimens have existed in museums for 100 years, and at least one olinguito lived in several U.S. zoos during the 1960s and 1970s.


K.M. Helgen et al. Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito. ZooKeys, Vol. 324, August 15, 2013, p.1. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.324.5827. [Go to]

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