史密森博物學會（Smithsonian Institution）科學家在美國芝加哥的菲爾德博物館（Chicago Field Museum）研究一種動物的皮毛及骸骨後，公開了美洲大陸近35年來首度發現的新種肉食性哺乳動物。
2003年史密森博物學會專門研究哺乳類的館長赫爾根（Kristofer Helgen）與其團隊於史密森自然史博物館（Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History）發現一新物種，便一路沿著手中線索，遠赴厄瓜多雨林和華盛頓基因實驗室做進一步研究。
The first new carnivore species to be identified in the American continents in 35 years was introduced to the public today by the Smithsonian Institution scientist who recognized it from skins and skulls tucked away in the collection of the Chicago Field Museum.
Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and his team uncovered the forgotten museum specimens in 2003 and followed a trail that took them from museum cabinets in Chicago to the cloud forests of Ecuador to genetics labs in Washington, DC.
It is a member of the family Procyonidae.Weighing about two pounds with large eyes and thick, woolly orange-brown fur, olinguitos are native to the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador, where they leap from tree to tree in the forest canopy.
The smallest member of the raccoon family an olinguito’s head and body are about 14 inches long (355 mm), plus a tail 13-17 inches in length (335-425 mm). Males and females are similar in size.
Field records showed that it inhabited a unique area of the northern Andes Mountains at 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level – elevations much higher than those inhabited by the known species of olingo.
The olinguito is so far known only from cloud forest habitats in Colombia and Ecuador, but future investigations might show that it lives in similar habitats in other South American countries.
“This is the first step,” Helgen said. “Proving that a species exists and giving it a name is where everything starts. 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 to ensure its conservation?”
“The cloud forests of the Andes are a world unto themselves, filled with many species found nowhere else, many of them threatened or endangered,” he said. “We hope that the olinguito can serve as an ambassador species for the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, to bring the world’s attention to these critical habitats.”