|Family:|| Tapiridae |
|Genus:|| Tapirus |
A tapir ( // TAY-pər, // TAY-peer or // tə-PEER, // TAY-pee-ər)[ citation needed ] is a large, herbivorous mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile nose trunk. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four widely recognized extant species of tapirs, all of the family Tapiridae and the genus Tapirus. They are the Brazilian tapir, the Malayan tapir, the Baird's tapir, and the mountain tapir. In 2013, a group of researchers claimed to have identified a fifth species of tapir, the kabomani tapir. However, the existence of the kabomani tapir as a distinct species has been widely disputed, and recent genetic evidence further suggests it is actually nested within T. terrestris . The four species that have been evaluated (all except the kabomani) are all classified on the IUCN Red List as Endangered or Vulnerable. The tapirs have a number of extinct relatives in the superfamily Tapiroidea. The closest extant relatives of the tapirs are the other odd-toed ungulates, which include horses, donkeys, zebras and rhinoceroses.
Four extant species within one extant genus are widely recognised. Three are found in Central and South America, while the fourth is found in Asia. Some researchers have identified a fifth species, the kabomani tapir, but its existence as a distinct species is widely disputed.(Some authors describe more, and a number are extinct):
|Image||Scientific name||Common name||Distribution|
|Tapirus bairdii(Gill, 1865)||Baird's tapir (also called the Central American tapir)||Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America|
|Tapirus terrestris(Linnaeus, 1758)||South American tapir (also called the Brazilian tapir or lowland tapir)||Venezuela, Colombia, and the Guianas in the north to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay in the south, to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in the West.|
|Tapirus kabomani||Little black tapir (also called the kabomani tapir)||Amazonas department in Colombia|
|Tapirus pinchaque(Roulin, 1829)||Mountain tapir (also called the woolly tapir)||Eastern and Central Cordilleras mountains in Colombia, Ecuador, and the far north of Peru.|
|Tapirus indicusDesmarest, 1819||Malayan tapir (also called the Asian tapir or Indian tapir)||Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam|
Size varies between types, but most tapirs are about 2 m (6.6 ft) long, stand about 1 m (3 ft) high at the shoulder, and weigh between 150 and 300 kg (330 and 700 lb). Their coats are short and range in colour from reddish brown, to grey, to nearly black, with the notable exceptions of the Malayan tapir, which has a white, saddle-shaped marking on its back, and the mountain tapir, which has longer, woolly fur. All tapirs have oval, white-tipped ears, rounded, protruding rumps with stubby tails, and splayed, hooved toes, with four toes on the front feet and three on the hind feet, which help them to walk on muddy and soft ground. Baby tapirs of all types have striped-and-spotted coats for camouflage. Females have a single pair of mammary glands, and males have long penises relative to their body size.
The proboscis of the tapir is a highly flexible organ, able to move in all directions, allowing the animals to grab foliage that would otherwise be out of reach. Tapirs often exhibit the flehmen response, a posture in which they raise their snouts and show their teeth to detect scents. This response is frequently exhibited by bulls sniffing for signs of other males or females in oestrus in the area. The length of the proboscis varies among species; Malayan tapirs have the longest snouts and Brazilian tapirs have the shortest.The evolution of tapir probosces, made up almost entirely of soft tissues rather than bony internal structures, gives the Tapiridae skull a unique form in comparison to other perissodactyls, with a larger sagittal crest, orbits positioned more rostrally, a posteriorly telescoped cranium, and a more elongated and retracted nasoincisive incisure.
Tapirs have brachyodont, or low-crowned teeth, that lack cementum. Their dental formula is:
Totaling 42 to 44 teeth, this dentition is closer to that of equids, which may differ by one less canine, than their other perissodactyl relatives, rhinoceroses.Their incisors are chisel-shaped, with the third large, conical upper incisor separated by a short gap from the considerably smaller canine. A much longer gap is found between the canines and premolars, the first of which may be absent. Tapirs are lophodonts, and their cheek teeth have distinct lophs (ridges) between protocones, paracones, metacones and hypocones.
Tapirs have brown eyes, often with a bluish cast to them, which has been identified as corneal cloudiness, a condition most commonly found in Malayan tapirs. The exact etiology is unknown, but the cloudiness may be caused by excessive exposure to light or by trauma.However, the tapir's sensitive ears and strong sense of smell help to compensate for deficiencies in vision.
Tapirs have simple stomachs and are hindgut fermenters that ferment digested food in a large cecum.
Young tapirs reach sexual maturity between three and five years of age, with females maturing earlier than males.Under good conditions, a healthy female tapir can reproduce every two years; a single young, called a calf, is born after a gestation of about 13 months. The natural lifespan of a tapir is about 25 to 30 years, both in the wild and in zoos. Apart from mothers and their young offspring, tapirs lead almost exclusively solitary lives.
Although they frequently live in dryland forests, tapirs with access to rivers spend a good deal of time in and under water, feeding on soft vegetation, taking refuge from predators, and cooling off during hot periods. Tapirs near a water source will swim, sink to the bottom, and walk along the riverbed to feed, and have been known to submerge themselves to allow small fish to pick parasites off their bulky bodies.Along with freshwater lounging, tapirs often wallow in mud pits, which also help to keep them cool and free of insects.
In the wild, the tapir's diet consists of fruit, berries, and leaves, particularly young, tender growth. Tapirs will spend many of their waking hours foraging along well-worn trails, snouts to the ground in search of food. Baird's tapirs have been observed to eat around 40 kg (85 lb) of vegetation in one day.
Tapirs are largely nocturnal and crepuscular, although the smaller mountain tapir of the Andes is generally more active during the day than its congeners. They have monocular vision.
Copulation may occur in or out of water. In captivity, mating pairs will often copulate several times during oestrus.Intromission lasts between 10 and 20 minutes.
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Adult tapirs are large enough to have few natural predators, and the thick skin on the backs of their necks helps to protect them from threats such as jaguars, crocodiles, anacondas, and tigers. The creatures are also able to run fairly quickly, considering their size and cumbersome appearance, finding shelter in the thick undergrowth of the forest or in water. Hunting for meat and hides has substantially reduced their numbers and, more recently, habitat loss has resulted in the conservation watch-listing of all four species; the Brazilian tapir is classified as vulnerable, and the Baird's tapir, the mountain tapir, and the Malayan tapir are endangered.
The first tapirids, such as Heptodon , appeared in the early Eocene of North America.They appeared very similar to modern forms, but were about half the size, and lacked the proboscis. The first true tapirs appeared in the Oligocene. By the Miocene, such genera as Miotapirus were almost indistinguishable from the extant species. Asian and American tapirs were believed to have diverged around 20 to 30 million years ago; tapirs later migrated from North America to South America around 3 million years ago, as part of the Great American Interchange. For much of their history, tapirs were spread across the Northern Hemisphere, where they became extinct as recently as 10,000 years ago. T. merriami , T. veroensis , T. copei , and T. californicus became extinct during the Pleistocene in North America. The giant tapir survived until about 4,000 years ago in China.
Approximate divergence times based on a 2013 analysis of mtDNA sequences are 0.5 Ma for T. kabomani and the T. terrestris–T. pinchaque clade, 5 Ma for T. bairdii and the three South American tapirs and 9 Ma for the T. indicus branching.T. pinchaque arises from within a paraphyletic complex of T. terrestris populations.
The tapir may have evolved from the paleothere Hyracotherium (once thought to be a primitive horse).
The species of tapir have the following chromosomal numbers:
|Malayan tapir, T. indicus||2n = 52|
|Mountain tapir, T. pinchaque||2n = 76|
|Baird's tapir, T. bairdii||2n = 80|
|South American tapir, T. terrestris||2n = 80|
The Malayan tapir, the species most isolated geographically from the rest of the genus, has a significantly smaller number of chromosomes and has been found to share fewer homologies with the three types of American tapirs. A number of conserved autosomes (13 between karyotypes of Baird's tapir and the South American tapir, and 15 between Baird's and the mountain tapir) have also been found in the American species that are not found in the Asian animal. However, geographic proximity is not an absolute predictor of genetic similarity; for instance, G-banded preparations have revealed Malayan, Baird's and South American tapirs have identical X chromosomes, while mountain tapirs are separated by a heterochromatic addition/deletion.
Lack of genetic diversity in tapir populations has become a major source of concern for conservationists. Habitat loss has isolated already small populations of wild tapirs, putting each group in greater danger of dying out completely. Even in zoos, genetic diversity is limited; all captive mountain tapirs, for example, are descended from only two founder individuals.
Hybrids of Baird's and the South American tapirs were bred at the San Francisco Zoo around 1969 and later produced a backcross second generation.
A number of conservation projects have been started around the world. The Tapir Specialist Group, a unit of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, strives to conserve biological diversity by stimulating, developing, and conducting practical programs to study, save, restore, and manage the four species of tapir and their remaining habitats in Central and South America and Southeast Asia.
The Baird's Tapir Project of Costa Rica, begun in 1994, is the longest ongoing tapir project in the world. It involves placing radio collars on tapirs in Costa Rica's Corcovado National Park to study their social systems and habitat preferences.
The Lowland Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative is a conservation and research organization founded by Patrícia Medici, focused on tapir conservation in Brazil.
Tapirs are generally shy, but when scared they can defend themselves with their very powerful jaws. In 1998, a zookeeper in Oklahoma City was mauled and had an arm severed after opening the door to a female tapir's enclosure to push food inside (the tapir's two-month-old baby also occupied the cage at the time).In 2006, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Echandi (who was then the Costa Rican Environmental Minister) became lost in the Corcovado National Park and was found by a search party with a "nasty bite" from a wild tapir. In 2013, a two-year-old girl suffered stomach and arm injuries after being mauled by a South American tapir in Dublin Zoo during a supervised experience in the tapir enclosure. Dublin Zoo pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and was ordered to pay €5,000 to charity. However, such examples are rare; for the most part, tapirs are likely to avoid confrontation in favour of running from predators, hiding, or, if possible, submerging themselves in nearby water until a threat is gone.
Frank Buck wrote about an attack by a tapir in 1926, which he described in his book, Bring 'Em Back Alive.
In Chinese, Korean and Japanese, the tapir is named after a beast from mythology that has a snout like that of an elephant. In Chinese and Japanese folklore, tapirs, like their chimerical counterpart, are thought to eat people's nightmares. In Chinese, the name of this beast, subsequently the name of the tapir, is mò in Mandarin (貘) and mahk in Cantonese (貘). The Korean equivalent is maek (Hangul: 맥, Hanja: 貘 [출처] 테이퍼 [貘, tapir]), while in Japanese it is called baku (獏 or 貘) (バク).
In the prehistoric sequences of the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, tapirs appear alongside primitive hominids in Africa. There is no evidence indicating that tapirs ever existed in Africa, so it is likely they were added simply for their "prehistoric" appearance. [ citation needed ]In the novel of the film, the hominids instead coexist with warthogs, which they learn to hunt for food.
Mark the Tapir is a character in the animated series Sonic Boom . He is a parody of a stereotypical obsessed fan.
Drowzee and Hypno from the Pokémon franchise are based on tapirs,with their ability to eat dreams being derived from the baku.
Many Ex-Mormon groups or individuals will use the Tapir as a symbol in reference to a critique of the horses in America referenced in the Book_of_Mormon supposedly being Tapirs
Odd-toed ungulates, mammals which constitute the taxonomic order Perissodactyla, are hoofed animals—ungulates—which bear most of their weight on one of the five toes: the third toe. The non-weight-bearing toes are either present, absent, vestigial, or positioned posteriorly. By contrast, the even-toed ungulates bear most of their weight equally on two of the five toes: their third and fourth toes. Another difference between the two is that odd-toed ungulates digest plant cellulose in their intestines rather than in one or more stomach chambers as the even-toed ungulates do.
Ungulates are any members of a diverse polyphyletic group of primarily large mammals with hooves. These include odd-toed ungulates such as horses and rhinoceroses, and even-toed ungulates such as cattle, pigs, giraffes, camels, deer, and hippopotamuses, as well as sub-ungulates such as elephants. Most terrestrial ungulates use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving.
The South American tapir, also commonly called the Brazilian tapir, the Amazonian tapir, the maned tapir, the lowland tapir, in Portuguese anta, and in mixed Quechua and Spanish sachavaca, is one of the four widely recognized species in the tapir family, along with the mountain tapir, the Malayan tapir, and Baird's tapir. The South American tapir is the largest surviving native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon.
The Malayan tapir, also called the Asian tapir, Asiatic tapir, Oriental tapir, Indian tapir, or piebald tapir, is the largest of the four widely-recognized species of tapir and the only one native to Asia. The scientific name refers to the East Indies, the species' natural habitat. In the Malay language, the tapir is commonly referred to as cipan, tenuk or badak tampung.
The mountain tapir, also known as the Andean tapir or woolly tapir is the smallest of the four widely recognized species of tapir. It is the only one to live outside of tropical rainforests in the wild. It is most easily distinguished from other tapirs by its thick woolly coat and white lips.
Baird's tapir, also known as the Central American tapir, is a species of tapir native to Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America. It is one of three Latin American species of tapir.
Papallacta is a small village in Napo Province, Ecuador located at an altitude of 3,300 m in the Andes just off the Eastern Cordilleras on the road from Quito which leads into the Amazon jungle. The scenic drive from Quito to Papallacta passes through several towns and small villages before ascending to a peak of over 4,000 m, from where mountains and glaciers are visible. Descending from the peak to Papallacta, the ecosystems transform from alpine to tropical jungle.
Xenorhinotherium is an extinct genus of macraucheniids, closely related to Macrauchenia of Patagonia. The type species is X. bahiense.
Tapiroidea is a superfamily of perissodactyls which includes the modern tapir. Members of the superfamily are small to large browsing mammals, roughly pig-like in shape, with short, prehensile snouts. Their closest relatives are the other odd-toed ungulates, including horses and rhinoceroses. Taxonomically, they are placed in suborder Ceratomorpha along with the rhino superfamily, Rhinocerotoidea. The first members of Tapiroidea appeared during the Early Eocene, 55 million years ago.
Tapirus californicus, commonly called the California tapir, is an extinct species of tapir that inhabited North America during the Pleistocene. It became extinct about 13,000 years ago.
Tapirus merriami, commonly called Merriam's tapir, is an extinct species of tapir which inhabited North America during the Pleistocene.
Tapirus copei, commonly known as Cope's Tapir, is an extinct species of tapir that inhabited North America during the early to middle Pleistocene Epoch (~2.5–1 Ma). The fossil remains of two juvenile Tapirus copei were collected in Hillsborough County, Florida on August 31, 1963. It was the second largest North American tapir; the first being Tapirus merriami.
Tapirus kabomani is a partially-recognized species of tapir, large browsing mammals similar in shape to a pig. It is the smallest tapir species, even smaller than the mountain tapir, which had been considered the smallest. T. kabomani is found in the Amazon rainforest, where it appears to be sympatric with the South American tapir. When it was announced in December 2013, T. kabomani was the first odd-toed ungulate discovered in over 100 years. T. kabomani has not been recognized by the Tapir Specialist Group as a distinct species and recent genetic evidence further suggests it is actually nested within T. terrestris.
Tapirus veroensis, commonly called the vero tapir, is an extinct Tapir species that lived in the areas of modern-day Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. Tapirus veronensis is thought to have gone extinct around 11,000 years ago.
Tapirus lundeliusi is an extinct species of tapir that lived in Florida in the early Pleistocene. It was similar in size and shape to the still-living Mountain tapir.
Tapirus mesopotamicus is an extinct species of tapir that lived in North America and is a possible ancestor of all modern tapirs.
Tapirus rondoniensis is an extinct species of large sized tapir that lived in northwestern parts of Brazil during the Pleistocene. Fossils of the species were found in the Río Madeira Formation of Rondônia, after which the species is named.
Mo (貘) was the standard Chinese name for the giant panda from the 3rd century BCE to the 19th century CE, but in 1824, the French sinologist Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat mistakenly identified the mo as the recently discovered black-and-white Malayan tapir, which never inhabited China in historical times. He based this misidentification on Chinese woodblock illustrations that depicted a mythological mo (貘) chimera with elephant trunk, rhinoceros eyes, cow tail, and tiger paws, which the famous Tang poet Bai/Bo Juyi first described in the 9th century. The consequences of Abel-Rémusat's error were extensive. His presumption that mo meant "Chinese tapir" was immediately adopted in Western zoology, and by the end of the 19th century it was accepted as modern scientific fact in China and Japan. In the 20th century, since mo had lost its original meaning, the giant panda was given a new Chinese name da xiongmao.
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