Thursday, August 15, 2013

[Mammalogy • 2013] Olinguito | Bassaricyon neblina • Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species endemic to the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador

Olinguito, Bassaricyon neblina neblina

We present the first comprehensive taxonomic revision and review the biology of the olingos, the endemic Neotropical procyonid genus Bassaricyon, based on most specimens available in museums, and with data derived from anatomy, morphometrics, mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, field observations, and geographic range modeling. Species of Bassaricyon are primarily forest-living, arboreal, nocturnal, frugivorous, and solitary, and have one young at a time. We demonstrate that four olingo species can be recognized, including a Central American species (Bassaricyon gabbii), lowland species with eastern, cis-Andean (Bassaricyon alleni) and western, trans-Andean (Bassaricyon medius) distributions, and a species endemic to cloud forests in the Andes. The oldest evolutionary divergence in the genus is between this last species, endemic to the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador, and all other species, which occur in lower elevation habitats. Surprisingly, this Andean endemic species, which we call the Olinguito, has never been previously described; it represents a new species in the order Carnivora and is the smallest living member of the family Procyonidae. We report on the biology of this new species based on information from museum specimens, niche modeling, and fieldwork in western Ecuador, and describe four Olinguito subspecies based on morphological distinctions across different regions of the Northern Andes.

Keywords: Andes, Bassaricyon, biogeography, Neotropics, new species, olingo, Olinguito

Figure 13. The Olinguito, Bassaricyon neblina neblina, in life, in the wild. Taken at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador
(for mammalogical background of Tandayapa, see Lee et al. 2006).
Photograph by Mark Gurney.

Figure 3. Illustrations of the species of Bassaricyon. 

From top to bottom, Bassaricyon neblina sp. n. (Bassaricyon neblina ruber subsp. n. of the western slopes of the Western Andes of Colombia), Bassaricyon medius (Bassaricyon medius orinomus of eastern Panama), Bassaricyon alleni (Peru), and Bassaricyon gabbii (Costa Rica, showing relative tail length longer than average).
Artwork by Nancy Halliday.

Helgen, K.M., Pinto, C.M., Kays, R., Helgen, L.E., Tsuchiya, M.T.N., Quinn, A., Wilson, D.E., Maldonado, J.E. 2013. Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito. ZooKeys. 324: 1–83. doi:

Olinguito, New Mammal Species, Announced By Smithsonian Researchers (PHOTOS)