Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

How to Discover a New Mammal Species


Meet Dr. Kristofer Helgen, a former zoologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Did you know that we are still finding and naming new mammals around the world? From field expeditions and museum specimens, Kris has discovered about 100 mammal species. Hear about his surprising find of the “Olinguito” in cloud forests of Ecuador. Consider how studying mammals helps us understand how the Earth is changing. Get a glimpse of the modern technologies used to describe species and their environments. Ponder how much biodiversity still awaits discovery.

This program originally aired April 28, 2016, as part of the Smithsonian Science How webcast series, which is designed to bring natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

Teaching Resources

Mammal Biodiversity

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
  • MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

Earth Science

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Resource Type
Grade Level
Life Science