The Mistaken Identity of the Olinguito

by Tabitha Boyd, age 14

A new species of mammal, the Olinguito, was discovered last summer by Smithsonian researchers. It weighs about two pounds, and is 14 inches long with an equally long tail, and fully coated with reddish-brown fur.

Researchers figure there are thousands of Olinguitos in the forests of Ecuador and Colombia traveling through the trees at night, which makes them difficult to see. An Olinguito named Ringerl, lived in the Smithsonian-run National Zoo in Washington for a year. She was originally thought to be an Olingo. She was shipped from zoo to zoo to try to get her to breed with other Olingos, but, of course, she would not.

“It turns out she wasn’t fussy, she wasn’t the same species,” said Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian curator of mammals. Helgen first thought Olinguitos were different from Olingos when he was looking at pelts and skeletons in a museum.

“When we went to the field, we found it the first night. It was almost like it was waiting for us,” said Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Olingos and Olinguitos are very hard to tell apart. Olinguitos are smaller and have shorter tails, a round face, smaller ears and darker, bushier fur.

“It looks kind of like a fuzzball… kind of like a cross between a teddy bear and house cat,” said Helgen.

This discovery is not renaming something, but finding a new species. This type of find has not happened in the Americas for about 35 years.

[Source: Wisconsin State Journal]

The abiilty to think like that shows you're an expert – TyanneThe abiilty to think like that shows you're an expert (2016-04-27 16:04)