New face: This undated photo provided by the Smithsonian Institution shows an olinguito. | AP

New face: This undated photo provided by the Smithsonian Institution shows an olinguito. | AP

New Carnivore Species Found in Western Hemisphere

 

It has been thirty-five years since a new carnivore species has been found in the western hemisphere. Theolinguito was discovered in a rather unconventional manner Рin a drawer of a Field Museum associated with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. A drawer full of animal skins and bones sat basically untouched from 1951 until 2003.

The drawer contained what was thought to be olingo skulls and skins. The olingo is a raccoon-like creature native to Central and South America. Kristofer Helgen, a mammalogist, noted that one of the creatures in the drawer was not like the others and has been working to establish it as a new species since opening the drawer in 2003.

The olinguito is similar to the olingo, but a bit redder in color with longer fur. The discovery of this new carnivorous mammal was officially announced on August 15 and the skin and skull are on display in the museum along with the skin and skull of an olingo for comparison. Helgen has been traveling the world, visiting other museums and collecting DNA samples in order to prove the existence of the separate species. He also visited Ecuador where he found an olinguito in the wild.