Drawn from the same skulls and skins that led NG Explorer Kristofer Helgen to realize he’d found an unknown species of mammal, these sketches aim to reveal the science and the beauty of the newly described “olinguito.”
Knowing that Kris and the specimens were nearby at the Smithsonian Institution, after the big announcement last week I asked to pay him a visit and give the olinguito the up-close artistic treatment it missed out on by not being noticed during the golden age of naturalists’ sketchbooks a century or more ago.
Cooped up for several hours in a windowless room filled with the off-gassing preservatives that keep the hundred-year-old skins looking as fluffy and colorful as ever, I examined and sketched the remains of olinguitos, olingos, kinkajous, and even a good old fashioned North American raccoon. Kris pointed out features of note and answered my questions about details completely invisible in the few photos of olinguitos in the wild.
I hope these sketches and notes help reveal and explain some of those details, and share the excitement of getting up close to this newly recognized member of the animal family.