Tapirs Today

Okay, contrary to my previous post on proboscideans, I don’t hate tapirs.  In fact, they’ve become some of my favorite animals and easily one of the most underrated creatures.  Similar to elephants, it has a prehensile snout which provides quite a number of uses.  Currently, there are four living species; the Baird’s tapir, the Mountain tapir, the Brazillian tapir, and of course, the Malayan tapir.   The earliest known tapir ancestors are heptodons, which lacked the iconic snout.  It lived during the Eocene, about 50 million years ago.  Quite a history I might add.  Tapirs are closely related to rhinos and horses as well other members of the order Perssiodactyla.

But of course, those are just facts.  Personally, I find tapirs to be just fascinating to look at.  People may not consider it as charismatic as its cousins, but that just makes it more worthwhile to learn about it.  Malayan tapirs are perhaps the most visually different of the four species due to its dichromatic color scheme.   All tapirs are semi-aquatic in behavior, which makes wonder about the adaptability of various species.  For some reason, we end up have this “perception” that animals that live in a certain environment can only live in that environment.  If a terrestrial animal touches water, it will automatically drown right…

In terms of defense, tapirs go the “boring but practical route”. We usually associate powerful herbivores with tusks, horns, hooves.  Tapirs on the other hand, can just run.  That’s not to say they can’t defend themselves, but why waste the tools used for more constructive purposes other than fighting? And if things get tough…CHOMP.   Plus, they have fairly thick fur on their necks to prevent easy bites from predators.

Luckily there are tapir focused blogs that are worth checking out:  The TPF(Tapir Preservation Fund), and…(searching for more..) Alright alright, they’re out there.

  1. #1 by Albertonykus on November 26, 2011 - 2:23 am

    Yep: http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2009/09/tapir_goes_bad.php

    Random zoo visitor: It’s a baby elephant!!!!1111!111!11!!1!

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