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.
All the banana slug fans at UC-Santa Cruz may blush with envy when they see their newest known relative. This species was recently discovered on an Australian mountain. The slugs make their home among red Eucalyptus leaves on the ground, which might explain their vivid coloring. The bright pink that makes them stand out among their yellow-toned banana slug brothers, might actually be a form of camouflage in their environment.
The slugs can grow to be 8 inches long!
Read more about it on the National Geographic website.
Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, which is also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world.
Because Madagascar is isolated in the middle of the ocean, plants and creatures evolved there separately from the rest of the world. As a result, Madagascar is home to many species not seen anywhere else. For example, 75 percent of the animals there live nowhere else in the world. (See some of them here.)
Now, scientists have found and identified another animal on Madagascar.
An mongoose-like creature has been discovered living in the in the country’s wetlands. It is a cat-sized carnivore with wicked-looking teeth.
Because it was discovered by researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, founded by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, the new animal has been named Salanoia durrelli, or the Durrell’s vontsira.
That the vontsira would be found on Madagascar is unsurprising. While most new land-dwelling species are small and easily overlooked, tropical jungles, like those on Madagascar, contain Earth’s last few unexplored areas.
Unfortunately, the wetland home of the Durrell’s vontsira is threatened by agricultural expansion. Conservationists say that protection is urgently needed for the vontsira to survive.