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New mammal known as the olinguito discovered in Andean cloud forest


Meet the olinguito, Earth's newest (and possibly cutest) new species. The carnivorous mammal was discovered in an Andean cloud forest spanning parts of Colombia and Ecuador.


Mark Gurney/Smithsonian

Meet the olinguito, Earth's newest (and possibly one of its cutest) species.

The tree-dwelling animal with a teddy-bear-like face and rust-colored fur is the first new mammal discovered in the Americas in more than 35 years, according to the Smithsonian Institution, which announced the discovery on Thursday.

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The discovery of a new mammal is an incredibly rare find in the 21st century.

It took Smithsonian researchers more than a decade to identify the olinguito, which was first discovered in an Andean cloud forest in the mountains of Ecuador and Colombia.

For years, scientists had thought the animal was an olingo, a larger member of the raccoon family, or another mammal.

No one realized it was a completely new mammal until further investigation and DNA testing.

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“In some ways, this animal was hiding in plain sight,” zoologist Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, who helped discover the olinguito, told the Washington Post.

According to the new findings, the olinguito is known to inhabit a number of protected areas from central Colombia to western Ecuador. Although it is also carnivorous, it eats mainly fruit, comes out at night and lives by itself, producing just one baby at a time, according to the BBC.

The research was published Thursday in the journal ZooKeys.