I kept refreshing the screen, waiting for the press conference earlier today to hear what new mammal had been discovered. Yes, for a minute I wondered… would it be a cryptid? Maybe an ape?
But then, reality hit. No, this would be something evolutionarily interesting, zoologically neat and, no matter what it was, cryptozoologists were going to use it to their advantage. I was correct.
Scientists in the US have discovered a new animal living in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador.
It has been named olinguito and is the first new species of carnivore to be identified in the Western hemisphere in 35 years.
It has taken more than a decade to identify the mammal, a discovery that scientists say is incredibly rare in the 21st Century.
The credit goes to a team from the Smithsonian Institution.
The trail began when zoologist Kristofer Helgen uncovered some bones and animal skins in storage at a museum in Chicago.[...]
The 35cm-long (14in) olinguito is the latest addition to the animal family that includes racoons. By comparing DNA samples with the other five known species, Dr Helgen was able to confirm his discovery.
Notice two key concepts… the discovery was the result of years of work by a zoologist using information that was already available, as well as DNA technology. The paper will be published in the journal Zookeys.
Today’s announcement, presentation and results were extraordinarily different from the Ketchum fiasco. This was actual proper science backed up with sound evidence with little dispute that there was something of value to see here. Others must examine the results to see if there are any weaknesses but when professional zoologists make this kind of announcement in the Smithsonian Castle, you can be assured he has his ducks in line.
Not so long ago, species were harder to tell apart. It was suspected that we had the olinguito all along but did not recognize it as unique. This is how many new species are discovered today, we look a little closer and find a surprise.
What does the crypto-circle think of this? Humans have discovered this cute little
fruit eater fuzz ball in the Andean forests. No one seems to be able to find Bigfoot that is supposedly eating bagels in the backyard and leaving tracks all around the campsite. What is wrong with this picture?
I saw one blog post that I won’t link to here that will probably be the standard trope used in defense of the non-scientific practitioners of cryptozoology: “Look how much we don’t know about the planet! New species are out there if only science wasn’t so closed-minded and looked at the evidence.” It’s hard to know where to start to unpack such misguided thinking. They pulled the same nonsense with the coelacanth. The finding of the olinguito is not cryptozoology. There were no extraordinary claims made about it beforehand. This is science that is being done by the rules, uncovering ACTUAL new species that fit another piece into a puzzle we are assembling regarding life on earth. It’s a lovely surprise that makes sense. (It explains why the female olinguito would not mate with the olinga – they were different species.) The researchers used clues from the specimens to discern where it might exist today, went and looked, and FOUND IT. It is thought to inhabit an extended area from Central Colombia to western Ecuador.
The current speculation about many and various cryptids, in contrast, usually makes little sense, doesn’t hang together, but most importantly, the framework has failed for decades to get us any better evidence let alone find the headliner cryptids.
While today’s announced finding was not Bigfoot, some may have been a bit anticipatory. This was one of the dates that serial leg-puller Rick Dyer claimed he was going to reveal his Bigfoot in captivity. Some people may have wondered, could it be? (He has since pushing it off AGAIN [perpetually] to January 1, 2014.)
While we liked to hope, the setup for this announcement today was professional, planned and actual science. It was not a circus like the current state of cryptozoology – full of clowns, gaffs, ringmasters and silly tricks. There is a lesson in today’s announcement, alright. It does NOT provide hope for cryptids out there. In fact, just the opposite. It makes the case for cryptids look that much more weak.