On Tuesday, Bill Stanley grabbed my arm and pulled me into a side hallway as we were walking towards the mammal collections on the third floor. He looked around suspiciously before leaning in, and in a hushed tone he said
there’s a new raccoon.
What do you mean?
There’s a new raccoon. You can’t tell anyone. It’s in the pipeline. Going live on Thursday.
Wha- I wasn’t going to-
You can’t tell anyone. Guess where it was discovered?
Oh, geez. I don’t know. Maybe Per-
Here. It was discovered here.
Then he patted my shoulder, winked, and kept walking.
Such was my introduction to the olinguito - and yesterday Bill brought it out to show me. In front of us were two drawers, one with the previously known species and the newly described animals on the right. It was immediately obvious to me that before us were two different animals - the size, color and length of the fur, the size of the ears - but without the previous knowledge that they were not one in the same, would I have seen the same dissimilarities?
This is what sparks me. This is what drives my enthusiasm. In these drawers for sixty years, side-by-side these animals remained, their full potential not realized until a curious researcher took the quiet time to sit down and take a concentrated look at them. It’s the romance of the discovery — it was here all along! — and once you see the striking inconsistencies there comes a feeling of empowerment, the thought that we are the next big discoverers. The thrill of the breakthrough remains attainable, accessible. It’s not beyond our reach or out of grasp - I look forward to seeing what you find next.