RESEARCHERS announced the discovery of a new species of mammal last week.
It's called the olinguito and is about 14 inches long with an equally long tail and weighs about two pounds.
But interestingly, the reddish-brown animal which looks like a raccoon with the face of a teddy bear, has apparently been hiding in plain sight for the last 100 years. In one case, one of them lived in the Smithsonian-run National Zoo in Washington for a year but it was belived to be of a sister species called olingo.
In the August 15 issue of ZooKeys, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History reported that the little carnivore is a nocturnal animal that resides in the mountainous forests of Ecuador and Colombia.
"It's been kind of hiding in plain sight for a long time," Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian's curator of mammals who has been tracking the olinguito for the past decade, is quoted to have said.
Explaining the difference between olinguitos and olingos, Helgen said the new species are smaller, have shorter tails, rounder faces, tinier ears and darker, bushier fur.
"It looks kind of like a fuzzball ... kind of like a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat,"
It eats fruit and has one baby at a time. Helgen figures there are thousands of olinguitos in the mountainous forest, travelling through the trees at night, which makes them hard to see.
New species are a regular discovery in the world of science, but they are usually on the scale of insects, so happening upon a mammal -- the warm-blooded class of animals that have hair on the skin and which suckle their young -- is a rarity.
"The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed," Helgen said.
"If new carnivores can still be found, what other surprises await us?