Adorable New Mammal Species that was hidden in plain sight

Talk about nature and wildlife you've seen or read about. Discuss specific plants, animals, natural places and wildlife in general, or follow the instructions in the Nature & Wildlife Photography forum to submit your own wildlife photographs.

Moderators: Isela, Koa

Post Reply
User avatar
wolfman200789
Hunter-in-training
Hunter-in-training
Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:53 am
Gender: Male
Location: WA,USA
Contact:

Adorable New Mammal Species that was hidden in plain sight

Post by wolfman200789 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:29 pm

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/15/world/ame ... index.html


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

Scientists at the Smithsonian in Washington announced Thursday the discovery of a new species of mammal called the olinguito (pronounced oh-lin-GHEE-toe). If you're a fan of long technical names, this one is Bassaricyon neblina.

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 "awww" 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.
This animal had been seen before by humans, Helgen said, but it had been "a case of mistaken identity."It was in museums, it's been in zoos, and its DNA had even been sequenced, but no one had connected the pieces and looked close enough to realize, basically, the significance of this remarkable and this beautiful animal," Helgen said.
Previously, scientists had assumed that olinguitos were members of their sister species, the olingos, Helgen said. Olingos are larger, less furry and have longer faces than the newly discovered species.
The zoo olinguito

Helgen's group has "discovered" the olinguito, but it been evolving as an independent species for about 3 to 4 million years, he said.

One olinguito whose history Helgen's group studied was exhibited in the United States during its lifetime as if it were an olingo. The creature came from the mountains of Colombia to the Louisville Zoo in 1967, courtesy of a German couple with a love of raccoon family members, Helgen said. It was also in the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington and the Bronx Zoo, where it passed away.

DNA from this olinguito shows that it is clearly not an olingo, Helgen said.

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.
The researchers found out that the olinguito primarily eats fruits, but also insects and nectar, and its activity is mostly at night. The animal lives in the trees and can jump from one to another. Mothers raise a single baby at a time.

At about 2.5 feet long from nose tip to tail tip, the olinguito weighs about 2 pounds and is a little smaller than a house cat.

DNA analysis confirmed that while olinguitos and olingos both belong to the raccoon family, they are "sister groups," in the same way that humans are closely related to chimpanzees.

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, Helgen said.

It turns out, according to Helgen, there are four subspecies of olinguitos, differing in color -- shades of reds, orange and browns -- and size and living in various sections of the Andes.

New species of mice, bats and shrews are more commonly discovered, but these animals are tiny and hard to tell apart, Helgen said.

Prior to the olinguito, the most recent mammal to be discovered in the Americas was a small weasel from the Andes -- the same area and habitat where the olinguitos live, he said.

"It shows us that there's a long way to go to exploring the whole world, but especially maybe these cloud forests," Helgen said. More olinguitos may be found in other South American countries with cloud forests in the future, according to the Smithsonian.

The olinguito is not yet considered an endangered species, but there are threats to its home environment, Helgen said. Many have such forests been chopped down.

"We also kind of hope that in telling this story to the world about the olinguito, that this beautiful new animal serves as something of an ambassador for those embattled cloud forest habitats."
"Beauty can be found in every stone, plant, creature, and person. You just have to look hard enough to see it." me-

http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa3 ... 2365e2.jpg

http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa3 ... 975638.jpg

Nordue
Guest
Guest

Re: Adorable New Mammal Species that was hidden in plain sig

Post by Nordue » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:25 pm

  • Heard about this on the news about a month ago.

    Just goes to show how modern species identification is happening on the genetic/molecular level more than ever before.

User avatar
Sambhur
Former WQ Moderator
Posts: 1843
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:39 pm
Location: australia
Contact:

Re: Adorable New Mammal Species that was hidden in plain sig

Post by Sambhur » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:43 pm

As soon as I saw this post a few days ago, I fell in love with these animals and drew one straight away. The articles on them are just so interesting and the animals are cute and everything great. Thanks for posting this, I don't know how I would've found out about these guys otherwise. :D
freelance artist/illustrator // biology student and wildlife enthusiast // sometimes i draw things for WQ

[instagram] [facebook] [twitter] [prints]
[click here to tell me what to draw]
Avatar by LupinzPack

Post Reply

Return to “Nature & Wildlife”