Something Old and Something New

FAIRFAX, Va. (August 17, 2013) – This week, scientists discovered two new species including an ancestor of the rat and a raccoon relative.

Yesterday, reported that a fossil found in China of an ancient rodent is one of the oldest on record for this group of mammals. The fossil is a multituberculate, a distant relative of today’s rats and mice that lived during the time of the dinosaurs, so it was never a bother to early humans.

However, a new mammal we might need to be on the watch for in North America is the olinguito. This cousin of the raccoon was grouped with another very similar animal until a researcher noticed differences in samples stored at the Smithsonian. The olinguito is the first new carnivore to be identified in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.