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This is an olinguito, Bassaricyon neblina. It’s the first new carnivore discovered in the Western hemisphere for 35 years. If that makes you think pith helmets and bark canoes and native guides and paddling up the Amazon, you are thinking a wrong thing. It was discovered in storage at a museum in Chicago. Hundred year old bones and skins.

The man who discovered it is curator of mammals at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, which surely makes his mama very proud. He was going through a box of stuff and realized this wasn’t anything he had seen before, so he had it DNA tested. Sure enough, it’s something new.

That’s not a tool zookeepers had available in 1967, when it’s now believed an olinguito was put on display. He was put in with the olingas, which is apparently a close relative. They always wondered why the sucker wouldn’t breed.

That’s right. They’ve discovered a little brown animal that is so close to another little brown animal, trained zookeepers couldn’t tell them apart. Hoo, boy! Exciting!

Still, I thought it was interesting to know that most discoveries of new animals are happening this way — DNA testing of fusty old taxidermies in hundred year old natural history collections. Oh, but afterwards, somebody did go to South America to look for the little bastards. And found them.

Sadly, not a mustelid. Nor yet a bear. It’s a member of the same family as raccoons (lookit the little hands!). It supplants the last new carnivore discovered in the Americas, the Colombian Weasel.

Colombian Weasel. It doesn’t bear thinking of, coked up weasels.


Comment from unkawill
Time: August 15, 2013, 9:51 pm

Seeing in the article that it’s diet consists mostly
of fruit, how is that classified as a Carnivore?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 15, 2013, 10:24 pm

Because it eats some meat, I guess. Or bugs maybe: it’s a little varmint.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 15, 2013, 11:16 pm

Looks like a relative to me, whatever the taxonomists say.

I wonder if the cat would accept one as an addition to chez mustelid?

Comment from marymary
Time: August 15, 2013, 11:48 pm

It’s an American Panda! W00T!

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 15, 2013, 11:49 pm

It probably comes home drunk at 3:00am & goes to sleep in your clothes dryer.

Comment from marymary
Time: August 16, 2013, 12:10 am

From this site, which reads like it went through a few iterations of Google-translate, I learned “A Colombian weasel group is called a ‘boogle’. ”


Comment from Nina
Time: August 16, 2013, 12:31 am

Who says this blog isn’t educational?!

Comment from mojo
Time: August 16, 2013, 1:06 am

It looks angry.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: August 16, 2013, 1:14 am

Oops, for a second there I thought it said Columbian Weasel. No offense meant to all the fine, upstanding mustelids of stellar character. That includes our blog hostess (and mate)with the Mostest.

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 16, 2013, 1:40 am

I’ve just been given a baby stoat to look after … it was found by a friend driving along the road last night.

So far I’ve fed it some mince, and have some water handy … and it is sitting in a cardboard box in the sun …

I’m figuring that they are semi safe to leave at home alone


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 16, 2013, 1:53 am

And here I thought that at last the American carnivore long known to freedom-lovers but unrecognized by taxonomists or botanists, homo collectivistica imperialis, had finally been added to the books.

Alas, apparently not. Perhaps because imperialis are quite hard to tell apart from coked-up weasels.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 16, 2013, 2:54 am

They’re trying really hard to sell this thing as cute, but I don’t see it.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: August 16, 2013, 2:56 am

Uncle Al,

They aren’t recognized by taxonomists because, although they can breed with homo singularis libertas, they need to find themselves and explore their sexuality before they make the same mistake as their mothers.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 16, 2013, 1:12 pm

Christopher, I tend to believe it’s those long sharp claws that make people think Cute! You can’t see the long sharp teeth behind that surly evil expression, so it must be the claws that make them feel that way.

/got nuthin

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: August 16, 2013, 2:35 pm

It is a rather baleful stare.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 16, 2013, 5:27 pm

Can’t blame it for the baleful stare–someone keeps popping up and poking a camera in your face, you can get pretty pissed off.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 16, 2013, 5:28 pm

Yes, Feynmangroupie, it does look malevolent. And that focus of attention slightly below and to one side of the camera lens, which I assume to be directly in front of the photographer’s face, I’m guessing is the photog’s jugular.

Are any ‘coons known to be blood-suckers?

p.s. Oops. My earlier post rather stupidly referred to botanists instead of biologists.

Comment from Pupster
Time: August 16, 2013, 7:24 pm

Calm down Stoaty. We’ll just fill up on bangers and mash.

NSFW- language


Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 16, 2013, 8:24 pm

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but you know about tayras, right? Giant honkin’ weasels the size of an ocelot. Haven’t seen one round my way but they would be quite happy in the same habitat as raccoons and those I have plenty of.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 16, 2013, 8:37 pm

Tayras. Nuh. They sound like giant fisher cats (which are honkin’ weasels of North America).

Aw, c’mon guys. He doesn’t look nearly as angry as a typical chicken.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 16, 2013, 9:02 pm

If chickens & geese had brains the size of cats, humans would have been killed off centuries ago.

Comment from Drew458
Time: August 16, 2013, 9:41 pm

If chickens had brains the size of cats, they’d fall over.

I don’t think that even people have brains the size of cats. Well, little kittens maybe.

Comment from Argentium G. Tiger
Time: August 18, 2013, 1:52 pm

Prediction: This will be used by some clever Australian as proof of the infamous “Drop Bear”. 😉

Comment from Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Time: August 18, 2013, 3:31 pm

Wease, you have to read Geoffrey Household’s Dance of the Dwarfs. It has mustelids.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 18, 2013, 10:29 pm

Holy carp, Malcolm — $125.92 in paperback???

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