New Mammal Species Discovered in South American Andes

 

Scientists have discovered a new species of carnivores in the Andes Mountains of Columbia and Ecuador. It is the first discovery of this type of mammal in over 30 years.

The new animal is called olinguito. It has face like a teddy bear with big eyes and an orange fur. The new mammal belongs to the raccoon family and looks like a mixture of cats and bears. Olinguitos live in the cloud forests of the Andes Mountains. They are active at night and share their living space with other members of the raccoon family. Although olinguitos are carnivores, they mostly eat fruit. Females produce one baby at a time.

 

Researchers say that the new mammal species has been known to people for over a hundred years. However, it has been wrongly identified and falsely labelled in museums. Recently scientists who work on specimens in Washington's Smithsonian Museum came across a sample with skin and bones that they had never seen before. They found out that it was different to olingos , a close relative of the olinguito, which has been on display for some time.

With new technologies and DNA testing, they came to the conclusion that the 35 cm long specimen was not an olingo but something new.  It had a smaller body and skull and smaller eyes too. They named the new mammal species olinguito.

An expedition team set out to South America to find the habitat if the new mammal. An Ecuadorian zoologist managed to film the animal and prove that it really existed.

While discoveries of new insects are frequent, scientists very rarely discover new mammal species. It shows that we still do not know everything about nature and many remote areas remain to be explored.

 

Olinquito - A new mammal species

Olinquito - A new mammal species - Mark Gurney

 

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Words

  • although = while
  • carnivore =  animal that eats meat
  • cloud forest = forest in the mountains of a tropical region that are always covered with fog because it is so wet
  • conclusion = result, ending
  • discover = to find something for the first time
  • DNA = substance that carries the genetic information of body cells
  • frequent = often
  • fur= skin and hair of an animal
  • habitat = living area
  • however = but
  • identify = put into a category
  • label = put a name  on a tag or a note
  • mammal = type of animal that drinks milk from its mother’s body when it is young
  • mixture = combination
  • on display = show
  • prove = show that something exists
  • raccoon = small north American animal  with black fur around its eyes and black and grey rings on its tail
  • rarely = not very often
  • recently = a short time ago
  • relative = member of a species
  • remain = still have to be
  • remote = faraway
  • researcher = person who studies facts about a special topic
  • sample = example
  • scientist = person who works in a laboratory
  • set out =  started to go to
  • share = here: use together with other animals
  • skull = the bones of a person’s or animal’s head
  • species = group of animals that are similar and can have babies together
  • specimen = single example of an animal or plant
  • wrongly = not correct, by mistake
  • zoologist = a person who studies animals and the way they behave