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Outside experts said this discovery is not merely renaming something, but a genuine new species — with three new subspecies. It's the type of significant find that hasn't happened in the Americas for about 35 years.
"Most people believe there are no new species to discover, particularly of relatively large charismatic animals," said Case Western Reserve University anatomy professor Darin Croft. "This study demonstrates that this is clearly not the case."
The olinguito is the smallest member of the raccoon family of mammals.
The researchers only saw olinguitos in Ecuador and Colombia, but they said they could also be living in parts of Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Guyana, based on their cloud forest habitat.
The olingo is also native to Central and South America.
The North Carolina museum is already selling olinguito stuffed animals for about $15. Proceeds will benefit habitat preservation for the creatures.
North Carolina Museum: http://bit.ly/14P1XlL
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