A fuzzy fog-dweller with a face like a teddy bear, the olinguito (pictured) is the first carnivore discovered in the Western Hemisphere in more than three decades, a new study says.
The 2-pound (0.9-kilogram) creature didn't make itself easy to find. The orange-brown mammal lives out a solitary existence in the dense, hard-to-study cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador, which inspired part of its Latin name Bassaricyon neblina: Neblina is Spanish for "fog."
What's more, the large-eyed critter is active only at night, when it hunts for fruit in its Andean habitat.
Finding a previously unknown mammal is relatively rare, and finding a carnivore—which are less plentiful than herbivores—is "incredibly rare," according to the study, led by Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. (Also see "Pictures: 14 Rarest and Weirdest Mammal Species Named.")
That's why the "spectacular" new species is "my most exciting discovery yet," Helgen said at a press conference Thursday in Washington, D.C.
The olinguito is now the smallest known member of the raccoon family. Click through for a closer look at some of its relatives.
New Carnivore Revealed: Photos of the Olinguito and its Kin
The world's newest carnivore, the olinguito, shares the South American treetops with other fuzzy members of the raccoon family.