Friday, August 16, 2013

And another new mammal pokes its head out...

From a museum this time.

It's not unusual to find new species in museum collections - the world's largest gecko and longest-legged spider were described that way. (How did the spider get overlooked? I am trying to picture a curator saying, "Ho hum, foot-long spider - file it over there.")

Now we have this little fellow.  The New World's newest mammal is the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), which has actually been in zoos but has been overlooked because it looks fairly close to another species. Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, found the specimens in Chicago's Field Museum that sent him on a quest for the living animal: and here it is, from Ecuador's cloud forests.

Welcome, little guy. 


Laurence Clark Crossen said...

When the olinguito was under the noses of many experts at a number of museums without being recognized as a new species, it would not be at all surprising if a sauropod lives in the difficult to access swamps of Africa. And no, I am not a creationist. I am an agnostic.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

It was at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Matt Bille said...

No, the guy worked for the Smithsonian, but the animal was not found there.

"Behind the scenes at the Chicago Field Museum in 2003, he remembers pulling out a drawer of skins and skulls that didn't look like any animal he had ever seen before, or that had been reported by zoologists. The teeth and skull were smaller and shaped differently than olingos, and the coat was denser.

Records indicated to Helgen that such specimens came from the northern Andes about 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level, which is much higher than olingo habitats.

Helgen and colleagues worked with Miguel Pinto, a zoologist in Ecuador, who had shot a few seconds of video that appeared to depict the animal.

They teamed up in Ecuador in 2006, using Pinto's knowledge of cloud forest habitats to pick the best spots to investigate. Cloud forests are "cloaked in fog," Helgen said.

On their very first night on the pursuit, the team found a real, living olinguito."

Matt Bille said...

Clark, from an unrecognized raccoon-size mammal that's overlooked because it looks fairly close to a known species to the living dinosaur is a leap of logic I can't follow.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

The news video gives the scientist himself saying the live animal was at the Smithsonian zoo at the 1:40 second mark.

Anyone can readily understand that if they are not careful enough to recognize the live animal under their noses they may have not been careful enough about the possibility of a sauropod.


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Matt Bille said...

Clark, good point.