New animal discovered by Smithsonian

Gabe Finger Contributor
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The Smithsonian Institution announced Thursday the discovery of a new species of mammal they have named the olinguito.

The discovery, which the Smithsonian described as the “first find of its kind in more than three decades,” is the smallest member of the raccoon family and is described as looking “like a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear.”

The team project was led by Dr. Khristofer Helgen, who first discovered the new species 10 years ago.

The two pound, two-and-a-half-foot-long carnivore lives in the Andes mountains of Ecuador and Colombia. The olinguito has thick, orange-brown, woolly fur, is mostly nocturnal, and is an adept jumper that can leap from one tree to another.

“Proving that a species exists and giving it a name is where everything starts,” Helgen said. “This is a beautiful animal, but we know so little about it. How many countries does it live in? What else can we learn about its behavior? What do we need to do ensure its conservation?”

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