Olinguito: ‘Overlooked’ mammal carnivore is major discovery

What an amazing discovery, and so cute!!  It makes you wonder what more is out there waiting to be discovered in the rich diversity of life.


Your bones were discovered,
covered in a tray,
by Kristofer Helgen
curating one day
in a museum stores.
He smiled in Smithsonian surprise,
he was truly beguiled
and then he surmised
“are you still there, out in the wild,
or are you extinct, Olinguito,
long gone, no more,
a mythical relic of native folklore?”

So he searched and he found you, Olinguito,
rich-red nocturnal carnivore,
prowling above the forest floor,
unseen before,
cloud-forest dweller of Ecuador
and Colombia,
where you’ve been all along,
Bassaricyon neblina
in that tropical scenery,
concealed in the greenery

It’s been thirty-five years
since the last new species
of carnivore was found.
A moment profound.
Are you the last, Olinguito,
or will there be more?


15th August 2013 – headline from the BBC.

Notes:  “Olinguito: ‘Overlooked’ mammal carnivore is major discovery.”  Scientists in the US have discovered a new animal living in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador.  It has been named olinguito and is the first new species of carnivore to be identified in the Western hemisphere in 35 years.  The trail began when zoologist Kristofer Helgen, from the Smithsonian Institute, uncovered some bones and animal skins in storage at a museum in Chicago.  But even after identifying the 35cm-long olinguito, a crucial question remained: could they be living in the wild?  The olinguito is now known to inhabit a number of protected areas from Central Colombia to western Ecuador..  Scientists have catalogued only a fraction of the planet’s lifeforms. New species of insects, parasitic worms, bacteria and viruses are discovered on a regular basis, but new mammals are rare.

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