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**Verified?** *(This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)* **Date:** 2013-08-16 **[Link to submission](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/)** (*Has self-text*) Questions|Answers :--|:-- [Is it a friendly creature? How did it get its name?](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp1ytn?context=5)|Olinguitos are not at all fierce animals, but they are shy! But we are only just starting to learn about the behavior of olinguitos! |The name Olinguito comes from combing olingo + ito. Olingo to designate that it is closely related to olingos, and -ito to mean little. -ito can also be added as a term of affection! So "Olinguito" more or less means "little, adorable olingo"! [Were there any names that were close to being chosen instead of olinguito? Maybe the weasel bear?](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2fy9?context=5)|Lots of possible names-- we were thinking about names like "Mountain Olingo" or "Andean Olingo", but I wanted to choose a good one-word name, and I think Olinguito suits the animal really well! [Was the olinguito also unknown to locals?](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2nxo?context=5)|As far as we have been able to find out, it is also unknown to locals. Judging from local Andean language terms and from talking to people, it seems people rarely distinguish between kinkajous and olingos, let alone olinguitos. Part of the confusion is that in some areas of middle elevation forests in the Andes, you can have kinkajous, olingos, and olinguitos all living in the same general area, and they are all pretty hard to tell apart when you see them at night up in the trees. If we had found a local language name that definitively applied to the olinguito (and not also to olingos or kinkajous), we would have loved to have used that name as the common or scientific name of this animal that we have called the Olinguito. [How many more mammals do you think are out there too find still? Not including future evolutions of today's animals. ](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp22sm?context=5)|There is no doubt that there are many hundreds of unknown living mammal species out there that still have not been "discovered" or given scientific names. [Most people think we must be done discovering mammals, but there is a long way to go. The Olinguito is a good example of how easy it can be, even for zoologists, to overlook a distinctive animal!](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2nm4?context=5)|Most of the mammals that remain undescribed are probably quite small, especially bats, mice, and shrews, but some are bigger than you might expect! [Do you have a favorite animal? If you could be any animal for one day, what would you be?](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp1zsz?context=5)|[Link to news.nationalgeographic.com](http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/130107-long-beaked-echidna-animals-science/) [So if these types of creatures KrisHelgen is talking about can interbreed, can the still be considered different species?](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp3tf9?context=5)|Three sources of evidence show us that Olinguitos and olingos do not interbreed: 1.they can live in the same geographic region in the Andes without interbreeding; |They are very different genetically and separated by milions of years of independent evolution; |A female Olinguito that once lived in zoos (mistakenly thought to be an olingo, in various US zoos 1967-1976) would not breed with olingos, despite many attempts to get her to breed. [Is there a way to tell whether this particular species has been around for a long time or has recently branched off another species? Have you ever encountered something new that was really new, and not just undiscovered? ](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2lf2?context=5)|"New species" is a label that scientists use to refer to animals that have recently been distinguished by biologists and given a scientific name. Hence, the Olinguito is a new species, since it was first given its scientific name (Bassaricyon neblina) in 2013 (yesterday), as compare to, say, the North American raccoon, which was first given its scientific name (Procyon lotor), in 1758. |The term "new species" generally does NOT mean that the species is an immediate offshoot that has just now evolved. Species of mammals that are called "new species" of mammals have usually existed for hundreds of thousands to millions of years as independent lines of evolution, but have only just been described by taxonomists. We have estimated (from comparisons of DNA) that the Olinguito has been on a separate evolutionary branch from its closest relatives, the olingos, for 3-4 million years. [Is there any video footage of these mammals? i tried looking for some, but couldn't find any. Thanks!](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp3cug?context=5)|[Link to www.youtube.com](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjoU6M3nnMA) [When did you think that this might actually be something new? How long did it take to verify the discovery? ](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2mlp?context=5)|It took us ten years. It took so long in part because I work on a large number of projects like this (20 or so) at a time, and because I wanted to be very thorough! Our paper documenting the Olinguito involved comparisons of specimens in dozens of museums around the world, fieldwork in Ecuador, laboratory work on DNA (including using "ancient DNA" techniques to obtain DNA out of old museum skulls), geographic range modeling, and much else, and involved a team of 8 scientists. All of that work started in 2003, when I first found Olinguito skins and skulls in a museum cabinet in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Everyone else had missed their distinguishing features. [Dr. Helgen, thanks so much for the great Google Hangout and immediately coming over here. Question: Why haven't you used your personal Twitter account @khelgen? You have tons of new fans and mammalogy enthusiasts.](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2fl2?context=5)|Hey, thanks for coming to the Google Hangout. So-- as you can see--I've never tweeted, and you're right, this might be a good time to get started! I like to find as many ways as possible to get the word out about science and about our discoveries, so it's probably time to get @khelgen started in the twitterverse! [Why don't we consider the person who put the furs that you first found in the museum the "discoverer"?](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp4f62?context=5)|Yes, that is one way to look at it! But generally, in science, a "discovery" is not credited to the first person to see or come across something (e.g. a species or a phenomenon), but to someone who explains its context, significance, how it all works. Our team of scientists was the first to realize and demonstrate that the Olinguito was a very different species than any other known mammal and that it did not yet have a scientific name. [There is no doubt that there are many hundreds of unknown living mammal species out there that still have not been "discovered" or given scientific names. ](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2mit?context=5)|Most people think we must be done discovering mammals, but there is a long way to go. The Olinguito is a good example of how easy it can be, even for zoologists, to overlook a distinctive animal! [Most of the mammals that remain undescribed are probably quite small, especially bats, mice, and shrews, but some are bigger than you might expect!](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2obc?context=5)|Some of the mammals I have named or "discovered" in the past include some of the largest bats in the world, and some of the largest rats. But only one is in the order Carnivora-- the olinguito. [Link to news.nationalgeographic.com.](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp2rn7?context=5)|If I could be any animal for a day, maybe an insect-eating bat-- what would it be like to navigate the world using echolocation? |One of my favorite bats is the Badger Bat (or Pied Bat), Niumbaha superba-- check it out: [Link to www.sci-news.com](http://www.sci-news.com/biology/article00992.html) |Here's another recent ZooKeys paper about this animal, another museum and field detective story similar in some ways to the Olinguito's tale: [Link to www.pensoft.net](http://www.pensoft.net/journals/zookeys/article/3774/twentieth-century-occurrence-of-the-long-beaked-echidna-zaglossus-bruijnii-in-the-kimberley-region-of-australia) [I have never seen that before, but it's my favorite microbat now.](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp3xuv?context=5)|We named Niumbaha as a new genus earlier this year: [Link to www.pensoft.net](http://www.pensoft.net/journals/zookeys/article/4892/abstract/a-new-genus-for-a-rare-african-vespertilionid-bat-insights-from-south-sudan) [They found hides and skulls in museums that didn't look to be olingos, so they investigated.](http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1khskw/iama_discoverer_of_the_worlds_newest_named_mammal/cbp3x27?context=5)|That's exactly right, printpixels. I found several museum specimens of Olinguitos, and I knew they were different from olingos. All of these specimens had come from Andean cloud forests in the Northern Andes (Ecuador and Colombia) decades ago. The next step was to get down to the same habitats in the Northern Andes and see if we could find populations in the wild, and that is what we did. BTW: here's the link to the original scientific paper we published yesterday (you can download the pdf for free): [Link to www.pensoft.net](http://www.pensoft.net/journals/zookeys/article/5827/taxonomic-revision-of-the-olingos-bassaricyon-with-description-of-a-new-species-the-olinguito) *Last updated: 2013-08-20 12:10 UTC* *This post was generated by a robot! Send all complaints to [epsy](/message/compose/?to=epsy).*