Nature’s Empirical Evidence

olingo
Olingo: Photo from Wikipedia
 
Have you ever heard of an olingo? I confess I have not. I have traveled through South America and Central America, but never saw or heard of the species.

Native to the rainforests of Central and South America, olingos are nocturnal mammals, similar to kinkajous, which are related to raccoons. Kinkajous and olingos are prime examples of parallel evolution. Since I have seen a kinkajou in a South American, it is even quite possible I did view an olingo, since they are often confused, even by experts.

What none of us has ever seen is an olinguito. It is a new species of mammal discovered only recently in Ecuador and Columbia. The olinguito is raccoon-sized, with a face that looks more like a stuffed teddy bear than a raccoon. In fact, it belongs to an animal class that also includes bears, raccoons, and even canines. The Washington Zoo exhibited one for a whole year as a kinkajou before realizing its mistake. Olinguitos are smaller, with shorter tails, smaller ears, rounder faces, and darker, bushier fur than both kinkajous and olingos. These fruit-eaters weigh only two pounds, and bear only one offspring at a time.
 
AP Photo by Mark Gurney
AP Photo: Mark Gurney
 
Finding a new species of mammal is rare, indeed. The olinguito is the first one in many years. In fact, most people choose to believe there are no new mammal species. Yet, at the risk of offending those with a non-scientific approach to life, scientists have apparently proved mammal evolution. It will be interesting to see the fallout from Nature’s new gift to this planet.

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Comments

  1. I'm such a nerd. I get soooo excited when scientists discover a new species. There are so many things about our own planet we don't know yet, and each new discovery is like another piece of the puzzle. I hope they definitively affirm and identify the Loch Ness monster (and similar creatures believed to live elsewhere) before I kick the bucket.

    Just curious. Is there any significance to the old "Radio News" cover shown on your blog? Are you an amateur radio operator, maybe?

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    1. Susan: I love the era of the Lost Generation (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and company). The magazine is one I had never seen before. I was teaching a course in Pop Culture and I came across it.

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    2. Very cool. We happen to have a ton of old radio magazines, dating back to about 1920 or so.

      I'm a huge Fitzgerald fan, too.

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    3. Susan: I agree. Much of my writing and teaching has to do with The Jazz Age.

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  2. Nature is always fascinating and we know and understand only a very small part of it. This makes live really exciting! Thanks for calling our attention to olinguito JJ.

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    1. Fanático_Um: I feel the same way. I have spent my life appreciating Nature and all her gifts.

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  3. This stuff is so interesting. There is so much about life on our own planet that is still a mystery. I was not familiar with olinguito prior to this blog posting, so I am so glad you shared!

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    1. Robin: Imagine when they find a way to explore the ocean floor!

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  4. Oh, I love this. I read all about it just today. Just shows us all that we don't know our world as well as we thought.

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    1. Miranda: I always knew I know very little about Nature. We need a jolt once in a while.

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  5. Olingo, a right name for this cute animal! It looks similar to Koala.
    I grew up in big cities where I didn't have much oppertunity to get close to nature. But the older I get, the more I pay attention to nature and humble I become to nature and its creations. And I take myself as a part of nature. Actually this Olingo and I live in the same house:-)

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    1. lotus-eater: Had you heard of the olinguito?

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  6. Hey JJ, I hope this message finds you well. I actually just heard about this on my car radio this afternoon on the way home from picking my son up from school! I think it's so exciting!!

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    1. Katherine: Glad to hear from you. It is exciting, indeed.

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  7. Such a fascinating post, JJ. I find nature so incredible! There is ALWAYS a new surprise and ALWAYS something to learn. Evolution is never ending.

    Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing!

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    1. Michael: Thank you, and right back at you!

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  8. Interesting, JJ. I've never heard of olingos and olinguitos before. Lovely snapshots.

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    1. Julia: I saw olingos, but not olinguitos. I intend to search for one.

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  9. I haven't even heard of a kinkajou, let alone an olingo! ;)

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    1. Lynda: I am sure there are literally millions of species I have never heard of. I just happened upon this information.

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  10. Too many animals are disappearing so it's good to hear some positive news for a change.

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  11. I'm with lynda. Thanks for the education. After watching the melting of the polar cap last night on the news this new species gives promise.

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    1. Linda: I know. It is scary. However, if it makes a difference, icebergs on the other side of the planet appear to be growing twice as fast as the ones melting. Check out the stats on Antarctica, also.

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  12. I'm not sure I have heard of them and I'm glad you're pointing them out. They look so cute in those photos, so I'm glad to stop by and be reminded that there are such cute creatures out there.

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    1. Angelika: I thought you would like their artistic qualities.

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