(WKOW) --- Smithsonian scientists have come up with a new species of mammal, the olinguito.
The mammal lives in treetops in the Andes Mountains and weighs in around two pounds.
The olinguito is the smallest member of the raccoon family.
This marks the first new species of carnivore found in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.
Researchers add that finding a new mammal, especially a carnivore, is rare.
For decades, scientists thought the mammal was an olingo, a larger member of the raccoon family.
You might have seen them in zoos, or in museums, but no one realized the DNA didn't add up.
Zookeepers said the mammal refused to breed or mingle with other olingos.
"They thought it was just a fussy olingo, but turns out it was completely the wrong species," said Smithsonian zoologist Kristofer M. Helgen, who spearheaded the sleuthing on the olinguito, which is Spanish for "little olingo."
Helgen said finding the new species was an accident. He originally set out to look back at records to see how many of the species olingo existed.
While at the Field Museum of Chicago, he noticed the pelts looked nothing alike, and neither did its skull or teeth.
That's when he called in olingo expert, Roland Kay, who helped discover the olinguito.
The pair set off to find one in it's natural habitat, and did.
Researchers could then test the DNA and discovered, indeed it was a new species after all.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2013 WorldNow and WKOW. All Rights Reserved.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Program Manager Jessica Miller at 608-661-2794. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at email@example.com.