What species is the olinguito related to?

The olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) is a member of the procyonid family of mammals, which includes raccoons. Olinguito means ‘little olingo’ in Spanish and there are five other species of olingo that belong to the Bassaricyon genus. They are all tree-dwelling creatures that live in the rainforests of Central and South America. The procyonid family belongs in turn to the order Carnivora, but olingos actually eat fruit and insects, rather than meat.

They occupy roughly the same ecological niche as squirrels in Britain – agile four-legged tree dwellers with tails that aren’t prehensile. The olinguito is the smallest of the procyonids, weighing less than a kilogram (2.2 pounds). Physically, it most closely resembles the European polecat, although they belong to different families and aren’t closely related. At least one olinguito was kept in a US zoo in the Seventies, but it was misidentified at the time.

Answered by Luis Villazon

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