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Adorable new mammal species found 'in plain sight'

WASHINGTON — Imagine a mini-raccoon with a teddy bear face that is so cute it's hard to resist, let alone overlook. But somehow science did — until now.

Researchers announced Thursday a rare discovery of a new species of mammal called the olinguito. The reddish-brown animal is about 14-inches long with an equally long tail and weighs about 2 pounds.

It belongs to a grouping of large creatures that include dogs, cats and bears.

The critter leaps through the trees of mountainous forests of Ecuador and Colombia at night, according to a Smithsonian researcher who has spent the past decade tracking them.

But the adorable olinguito (oh-lihn-GEE'-toe) shouldn't have been so hard to find. One of them once lived in the Smithsonian-run National Zoo in Washington for a year in a case of mistaken identity.


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