Olinguito, a new mammal species discovered

Mark Gurney/Zoo Keys

The first new carnivorous mammal in 35 years has been discovered hiding in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia.

The creature known as an olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) has been known about for some time. One was displayed in a museum over 100 years ago as well as being kept in zoos across the states in the 1960’s although in all occasions it was wrongly identified as an olingo.

It’s only after a 10 year study of olingos at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History that remains were discovered in a drawer and analysed. A large number of differences were found between the two species including longer fur, a shorter tail, different teeth and much smaller ears. These were confirmed with DNA comparisons.

Subsequently scientists trekked through the cloud forest of Ecuador and Colombia discovering many olinguitos and identifying four sub-species.

The olinguito is omnivorous eating fruits as well as insects. It’s nocturnal, very solitary and generally produces one offspring at a time.

If you wish to visit the cloud forest of Ecuador see our Hummingbirds and Turtles tour.

RELATED: Spotlight on Tamarin Monkeys

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