New species of mammal identified

A new species of mammal called olinguito and similar to a raccoon has been identified after nearly 100 years of being confused with other animals, making it the first discovery of its kind in 35 years on the American continent.

The existence of this new species was determined by comparing its anatomy and DNA to similar species.

Kristofer Helgen, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History in the US, noticed that one of the animals’ remains stored at Washington’s Natural History Museum presented different characteristics, and it was only after a 10-year investigation into the racoon-like mammal that the new species was discovered.

“Its fur was an intense reddish colour, and when I observed their skulls I did not recognise their anatomy. It was different from all similar animals I had seen and immediately I thought it might be a new species for science,” Helgen told BBC.

The olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) is a carnivore and is about 35cm long.