It was first discovered by Swiss-based environmental group WWF in 2003, using a night-time camera trap in Kayan Mentarang National Park. The mammal is slightly larger than a cat, with red fur, a long tail, and hind legs that are longer than the front legs. Its overall appearance is something between a cat and a fox. In some ways it resembles the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) of Madagascar.
The WWF plans to set traps to capture and study the animal. If this proves to truly be a new species, it will be the first new carnivore discovered on Borneo since the Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti) in 1895. Other new mammals are discovered in Borneo with some regularity, for example the rodent Pithecheirops otion in 1993 and the bat Myotis gomantongensis in 1998. Some individuals have speculated that the animal in the photographs is a known (but exceedingly rare) species, Hose's palm civet (Diplogale hosei).
However, a new report published by Erik Meijaard, Andrew C. Kitchener, and Chris Smeenk in 2007 suggests the animal photographed may not be a carnivoran after all, but one of the area's large flying squirrels of the genus Aeromys, possibly Thomas's flying squirrel (A. thomasi). Other skeptics claim that it may be a red giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista).
- BBC story covering the species' discovery
- Guardian UK story covering the species' discovery
- MSNBC's story
- News article calling it a cat-fox
- WWF - Mysterious carnivore discovered in Borneo's forests
- That's no mystery carnivore part 1
- That's no mystery carnivore part 2