FROM THE HEART WITH GINI RIFKIN / AUTHOR OF ADVENTUROUS ROMANCE
PORTENCE, BLISS, SOLACE, A COWBOY'S FATE, VICTORIAN DREAM, SPECIAL DELIVERY, IRON HEART, LADY GALLANT, THE DRAGON AND THE ROSE, FATE OF THE SILVER MOON,......click cover to buy (image by Svetlana Petrova)
The four living species of tapirs, the lowland tapir, the mountain tapir, Baird's tapir, and the Asian tapir are remnants of an ancient lineage whose evolutionary origin traces back at least fifty million years. Although their stout body superficially makes them look like pigs, and their short fleshy proboscis (trunk) often causes casual zoo-goers to mistake them for anteaters, they are not closely related to either of these groups.
In fact, their closest evolutionary cousins among living mammals are rhinoceroses and horses.
"Say what! Neigh-way. I find that hard to believe"
Characteristics differentiating tapirs from other mammals, the most obvious are: the continuous transverse shearing blades (or lophs) on their cheek teeth; their three-toed hindfoot, and four-toed forefoot; and most noticably, their short prehensile proboscis
Tapirs usually live in forested areas, and their stocky build, with relatively short limbs and stout torso, is well suited for barreling through the underbrush. Although they are large mammals, (adult tapirs weighing from about 330 -800 lbs, (depending on species) they are characteristically shy and avoid human contact. Because of this, and because they are typically crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) or nocturnal, they are rarely seen in the wild.
Tapirs are generally solitary, although several individuals may share an overlapping home range. They have a long gestation period (about 13 months), and they give birth to one calf at a time. This low recruitment rate makes tapirs highly vulnerable to over-hunting. Unfortunately, habitat loss and over-hunting are major threats to the long-term survival of all four tapir species.
The Tapir's prehensile trunk trunk is comprised of modified muscles of the upper lip and nose, and is capable of complex movements.
Though they appear densely
built, tapirs are at home in the water and often submerge to cool off. They are excellent swimmers and can even dive to feed on aquatic plants. They also wallow in mud, perhaps to remove pesky ticks from their thick hides.
So bye for now, hope we made you smile,
and don't forget, April 27th is World Tapir Day!
Some text by Matthew Colbert and National Geographic.
I have a penchant for odd animals. My five favorites are capybaras, manatees, tapirs, Tasmanian tigers, and Okapis.
Today we're looking at capybaras.
Classifying them as large, semi-aquatic rodents found inhabiting the water-logged regions of Central and South America is somewhat off putting, until you see them.
They are so adorable.
The common name of the Capybara is thought to mean "Master of the Grasses", while it's scientific name comes from the Greek word for water hog.
They have hoof-like claws on their toes which along with the webbing, helps them both when negotiating the slippery banks and with swimming, It also prevents the Capybara from sinking too deeply into the surrounding mud.
One of the Capybara's most distinctive features is the fact that their eyes, ears and nostrils are all positioned on top of it's head meaning that they still have excellent sight, sound and smell while in the water. The placement of these features also means when threatened, the Capybara can retreat into the water leaving only these parts of it's body exposed to potential predators.
The Capybara sleeps very little, preferring instead to doze and rest during the morning in thickets on the banks, or wallowing in the mud and water when cooling down in the heat of the midday sun.
They begin to emerge onto land in the early evening to graze on grasses and aquatic plants, and they will continue to do throughout most of the night.
They travel in herds of anywhere of 10 to 30, and are even seen in groups of 100. Litters, between 1 and 8 pups, are birthed on land, and the young are very well developed. They not only have all their fur and can see, but are also able to run, swim and dive within hours of birth.
Like all other species of rodent, their two front teeth grow continuously throughout their life meaning that they must gnaw and chew their food to grind them down which they do in a back and forth motion rather than from side to side.
Although most at home in the water, their top speed on land is around 22 MPH
The Capybara can live up to 10 years in the wild and slightly longer in captivity. But having them as a pet can be quite involved and is not recommended. They love to chew up your house and a pool is also necessary to properly care for them. Their predators include large cats, eagles, snakes, hunters and loss of habitat. For this reason they rarely stray too far from the safety of fresh water. When threatened they can stay submerged for up to 5 minutes.
So here's to capybaras, long may they live and not become endangered.