The Living Fossil: Tapirs

I’ve been wanting to do a post for this animal for a long time.  We have the Malayan Tapir at the Bronx Zoo and they’re relaxing to watch.  It’s such a fascinating creature because it looks so unique.  So, what are they?

Tapirs look like a combination of a boar and an elephant.  Yet, they are more closely related to horses and rhinos. They are a very ancient species, which originated in North America during the Eocene era.  These days, they are found in South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia.  Still, they started here and haven’t changed much over the millennia.  This is why they’re called ‘living fossils’.

All four species are currently endangered.  This is due to them being hunted for meat and deforestation.  This SITE has a lot more information on it.  To be honest, I think we all know how this goes at this point.

Let’s check out some facts:

  • Tapirs have a prehensile snout that they use to grab food from trees.
  • They are great swimmers and use their flexible nose as a snorkle.
  • They are the largest land mammal of South America at 300-700 pounds.
  • Calves are colored similar to fawns for camouflage.  It is sometimes called a ‘watermelon’ pattern. They get their more solid colors as they get older.
  • Another nickname is ‘Gardeners of the Forest’.  This is because they eat a lot of plants and travel far distances.  This allows them to deliver seeds of one plant in a new area to create more biodiversity.
  • They have four toes on their front feet and three on their back feet.
  • Tapirs are pregnant for 13-14 months and only give birth to one calf.
  • The name ‘Tapir’ comes from the Brazilian word for ‘thick’.  They are called ‘Badak’ in Indonesia, which is the same word for rhinos.  They are called ‘P’som-sett’ in Thailand, which means ‘mixture is finished’.  Supposedly, the last one is because it is believe tapirs were created from leftover animal parts.
  • A group of tapirs is called ‘a candle’.

So, let’s get a picture of each species and some fun videos.

Baird’s Tapir

Malayan Tapir

Mountain Tapir

Brazilian tapir

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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28 Responses to The Living Fossil: Tapirs

  1. That baby was pretty cute.


  2. noelleg44 says:

    Another amazing animal! The baby is adorable. I never knew they liked water!


  3. You can sort of see the horse resemblance in the face, even with the nose going everywhere.


  4. This was a terrific look at the Tapir. Thanks, Charles.


  5. V.M.Sang says:

    Amazing creatures. There was one at the zoo when I was a kid. Such a pity such wonderful animals are threatened.


  6. From the side they are looking something mysterious, but from the front they are looking so funny. I never had thought they would have such a flexible nose. Thanks for introducing another cute wild animal, Charles! Enjoy your week! xx Michael


  7. Jennie says:

    They are so cute!


  8. Pingback: *Press This* The Living Fossil: Tapirs #268 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

  9. Milena Alien says:

    Absolutely adorable! thanks Charles


  10. A tapir looks like an elephant. Thank you 🌍🙏


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