A curious new species

I just this minute got a “CNN breaking news alert”: this is it in its entirety:

Smithsonian announces new species called olinguito and describes it as cross between house cat and teddy bear.

(CNN usually reserves its “news alerts” for important world events.)

Well, what they mean is that this new creature looks like the offspring of a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear.  This is not a joke, and I’m curious to see what on earth this is. Readers can post updates below.

But I will relate a joke that my father used to tell me:

Dad: “What do you get when you cross a lion with a parrot”?
Jerry: “I don’t know, Dad.”
Dad: “I don’t know either, but when it talks, you’d better listen!”

Well, that’s a joke, but the olinguito apparently is not.

I’ll be here all week, folks.

UPDATE:  Here’s a photo of it, one of three from the BBC report:

69301447_2photoofolinguito

 

It’s described as the first new species of carnivore to be found in the Western hemisphere in 35 years. It resides in Colombia and Ecuador.

50 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Christian
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Well, here’s a link at PuffHo with a pic: Olinguito, New Mammal Species, Announced By Smithsonian Researchers

  3. Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    same deal as above, I think.

  4. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    WaPo article

    “The animals had been … even exhibited at zoos — including the National Zoo.

    The animal puzzled zookeepers because it oddly refused to breed or mingle with other olingos.

    “They thought it was just a fussy olingo, but turns out it was completely the wrong species,” said Smithsonian zoologist Kristofer M. Helgen, who spearheaded the sleuthing on the olinguito, which is Spanish for “little olingo.””

  5. Alex Shuffell
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Much more information at the BBC site. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23701151

  6. NewEnglandBob
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    All week? I hope so. (Subscribe)

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Cat? Teddy bear? Resembles a raccoon to me.

      Thanks to those posting pictures.

  7. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Here’s the official publication:

    Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito
    Helgen, et al. (2013)
    ZooKeys 324: 1–83, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.324.5827

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      DNA comparisons, skull diagrams, tooth measurements, etc.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Four subspecies identified!

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Despite the phologenic classification as a carnivore, it is a frugivore.

  8. Geoff
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of the old joke, ‘I went to the zoo and all they had was a dog. It was a shitzu’

    • Geoff
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Oops that went to the wrong post… Was meant for the Chinese zoo

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Oh CNN, you jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname God’s creatures….

  10. Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Well we have not found nearly all the life on this planet yet, and there is tons in the ocean still.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      and there is tons in the ocean still.

      I sent Jerry a link a couple of weeks back to a paper recently published on doing mass PCR and genome assembly of “unculturable” maritime bugs. If my reading of the paper (IANA-geneticist) is correct, they added on the order of 23 (or was it 29?) taxons of microbes at a level comparable to “phyla”, and did some deep re-ordering of the “tree of life”. To put that in context, this is an “early report” level of work, against around a hundred phyla previously erected for metazoans, plants and “microbes” (from Margulis & Schwartz’s “Five Kingdoms” book ; I still haven’t finished reading it, and the number of phyla had changed by several between publication and me ordering a copy!)
      It was pretty headache-inducing stuff. Where did I put that link …

      Subject : [WEIT] Microbial “Dark Matter”
      Body : It’s the paper’s title, not me! “Insights into the phylogeny and coding potential of microbial dark matter” NATURE, v499 p431.

      I shouldn’t really promote astrophysicists paddling in the murky lagoon of biology, but Tom Gold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold) did have a point when he suggested that the “Deep Hot Biosphere” could be volumetrically the largest living space in/ on Earth. Whether there is sufficient organic (“CHONP”) matter to survive there in large quantities is a separate question. And mixing rates and environmental changes are likely to be slow, which would challenge evolutionary processes. But he does have some fair points, even if he is generally unlikely to be correct in his hypothesis.

  11. jesperbothpedersen1
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Awesome.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Looks like more of a reclassification than an identification of a new species.

      • Achrachno
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        No, it’s definitely the description of a new species. This creature had never been formally named and described in detail, or ever classified for that matter.

        It would be a reclassification if it had been described and named but was treated perhaps as a subspecies of some other species, or had been classified in a group (perhaps a different genus) to which it was not closely related. This was overlooked because it was confused with another species, but that’s another sort of problem.

  12. µ
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Seems like you missed a chance here to post a phylogeny and promote some tree-thinking on WET:

    This is a close relative of the coati, in the raccoon family (Procyonidae).

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      This is a close relative of the coati, in the raccoon family (Procyonidae).

      Ah, so that’s what “Procyonids” are. I saw the picture and thought “Weasel?” ; and indeed, the paper does have the group of interest presented as a sister group to the Mustilidae.

  13. Hempenstein
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Looks closer to a groundhog x teddy bear F1 to me.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Weasel, or mongoose.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Methinks it is like a weasel.

        • Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          Nah. It’s stoatally different.

          /@

          • Reginald Selkirk
            Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            It is backed like a weasel.

          • Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            One thing’s for sure: this pun thread is going to badger us all until somebody ferrets out the truth. C’mon, guys — y’all otter know better by now!

            b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

              Mustela take all puns – three in one shot!

        • gbjames
          Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          +1, Reginald

  14. moarscienceplz
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Did you hear about the guy who crossed Lassie with a Casaba? He wanted a melon-collie baby!

    • zoolady
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      YOU ARE EVIL AND MUST BE SILENCED! 🙂

  15. James Rednour
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    It’s described as the first new species of carnivore to be found in the Western hemisphere in 35 years.

    Wow! It’s been hiding a long time since it got off the Ark!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Wow! It’s been hiding a long time since it got off the Ark!

      Looking from the other end of the telescope … that Noah guy must have been one helluva taxonomist to get all those unidentified species lined up and paired off correctly.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

        Something the National Zoo failed at.

  16. zoolady
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I worry about this animal because it’s being touted as “CUTE” which usually means the kiss of death. Let’s hope it has the disposition of a WOLVERINE, so mindless celebrity TWITS won’t be sporting one as a ”pet” and starting a fad.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      The good thing about “cute” is everyone wants to save it – everyone likes the koala bear but so many people don’t care about frogs or salamanders (which I just as cute IMHO).

      • Achrachno
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        Worse yet, try to generate widespread concern about plants. What use are “weeds”? — they’re nothing but the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems.

  17. misstexaskitty
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    The worst thing that has happened to this little critter was to be “discovered”.

    • Achrachno
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Nope, that’s the best thing recently. There’s no hope of conserving what we don’t know. Can’t even get something listed as threatened or endangered until it’s been named and described.

  18. krzysztof1
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Looks cute, but then you see the claws.

  19. Dominic
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    What do you get if you cross a cat with a canary?
    A peeping tom…

    • Dominic
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

      What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhinoceros?
      Hell if I know!

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        *Like!*

  20. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    The Oatmeal comments on CNN’s description.


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