The olinguito, described as a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear, is the first new carnivorous mammal identified in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years, and it's considered one of the cutest scientific finds in recent memory. Researchers first spotted the critter on a trip to Ecuador in 2006, but it took years longer to determine how it was related to olingos, its furry cousins. We've rounded up more cute new species for your consideration...
A museum specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, Nicole Edmison, shows off a skull from a specimen of olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina). The 2-pound olinguito is native to the forests of Colombia and Ecuador.
A speckled, cat-sized mammal, known as Durrell's vontsira, or Salanoia durrelli, was identified in 2010. The animal hides out in the Lac Alaotra wetlands in central eastern Madagascar. It weighs just over a pound (0.5 kilograms) and belongs to a family of carnivores known to live only in Madagascar.
This large and charismatic fruit bat species, Styloctenium mindorensis, is known only from the Philippine island of Mindoro. Discovered in 2007, it is only the second-known species in the genus; the other species lives on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and the nearby Togian Islands.
The saola (known colloquially as the "Asian unicorn") is a small, horned animal that resembles a strange goat-antelope hybrid but is more closely related to a kind of wild cow. The animal actually has two horns, but in profile they can appear as one. Scientists discovered the critically endangered species, also known as Pseudoryx nghetinhensis, in 1992. It's native only to Vietnam and Laos. This juvenile saola female has just the beginnings of an impressive set of horns. A mature saola has very long, straight horns, with a slight curve at the end.
The Lavasoa dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus lavasoensis) inhabits three isolated forest fragments on the southern edge of the island of Madagascar. Researchers announced in July 2013 that the lemur represented a previously unknown species. Preliminary estimates indicate that the species comprises fewer than 50 individuals, which means the Lavasoa dwarf lemur is already extremely endangered. Numerous plant and animal species are found solely on Madagascar: The island has a high level of biodiversity that arose due to its long-lasting isolation from other land masses.
A previously unknown type of snub-nosed monkey, discovered in northern Myanmar in 2010 and dubbed Rhinopithecus strykeri, has a nose so upturned that the animals sneeze when it rains. To avoid inhaling water, they sit with their heads tucked between their knees on drizzly days, local hunters say. The species is shown here in a digital reconstruction based on a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey and a carcass of the newly discovered species.
This rare species of African monkey, locally known as the Lesula, was first described scientifically in 2012. Cercopithecus lomamiensis is only the second new species of African monkey discovered since 1984.
The world's smallest frog, discovered by Louisiana State University's Christopher Austin in 2009, is a tiny creature called Paedophryne amanuensis, which averages around 7 millimeters in size and fits in the center of a dime. Some scientist consider it the world's smallest vertebrate, while others argue that a type of angler fish should hold that title.
Big debate over tiny creatures