Surely by now, in the age of GPS and Google Earth, there is nothing in the natural world left to be discovered. The rainforests and the mountains and the valleys have given up their secrets to the generations of intrepid explorers and naturalists who have catalogued hundreds of thousands of separate species. Today, when as many as 100,000 species go extinct each year, all that’s left is to count up the losses.
But as it turns out that the age of discovery might not yet be over. Today Smithsonian scientists announced that they had discovered a new species of mammal: the raccoon-like olinguito. While the discovery of new species of invertebrates or amphibians isn’t unusual, a new species of carnivorous mammal hasn’t been identified since the 2010 discovery of the Durrell’s vontsira in Madagascar in 2010—and a mammal hasn’t been discovered in the Western Hemisphere since 1978. “The discovery of…
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