Olinguito

Olinguito


In late 2013, the first carnivorous mammal to be discovered within the Western hemisphere was found by Dr. Kristofer Helgen. It is called the Olinguito and is a member of the Raccoon-family.


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A small mammal with fluffy red-orange fur, a short bushy tail, and an adorable rounded face has leaped onto the raccoon family tree.

Such a discovery is rare. The olinguito is the first mammalian carnivore species to be newly identified in the Americas in 35 years, according to Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. His research group's study on the creature is being published in the journal ZooKeys.

Researchers argue that the olinguito should be considered the smallest living member of the raccoon family, which includes other animals that make us go "aww" such as coatis and kinkajous. The Smithsonian describes the olinguito's appearance as a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear. Cats, bears, and olinguitos belong to the Carnivora order.

The olinguito's misty high-elevation habitats in Colombia and Ecuador, and the tendency for the animal to stay in the trees, have helped keep the species relatively obscure to scientists until now.


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