For the first time in 35 years, scientists have discovered a new carnivorous mammal in the Americas.
The two-pound Olinguito looks like a tiny red-furred cross between a raccoon and a house cat. It lives in the trees of the Andean cloud forest in Ecuador and Colombia, where it is active at night.
Researchers have found more than two dozen examples of the Olinguito that are in private collections, but were incorrectly labeled. There is a report one was even in a U.S. zoo in captivity in the 1960s, where zookeepers were mystified by why it refused to breed with its peers (they were the wrong species, silly people!).
A member of the raccoon family, the Olinguito’s more commonly known cousin is the Olingo, which is slightly larger and a different color.
The existence of the Olinguito as a separate species was proven through anatomical and DNA evidence.
The last discovery of a carnivorous mammal on the plant was in 2010 on Madagascar.
You can read more about the Olinguito on the Smithsonian magazine website.