There are now five known species of tapir. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Matej Ba'ha
Scientists have identified a new species of endangered dwarf tapir living in the Amazon rainforest.
Despite extensive studies and expeditions the vast expanses of the Amazon rainforest continue to throw up surprises. The latest is a new species of tapir, a large quadrupedal mammal that would seem impossible to have remained hidden for so long, especially given its size.
These animals are believed to have been hunted by the tribal peoples of the Amazon for thousands of years, but up until now scientists had believed that what they were hunting was the Brazilian tapir, an already well known species.
It wasn't until paleontologist Mario Cozzuol first came across some unusual tapir skulls ten years ago that researchers started to search for evidence of a distinct species native to the region. Eventually they discovered that the hunters had been pursuing a genuine new species of tapir, one that was smaller than its Brazilian cousins and had darker hair.
Tapirs are a species that have remained relatively unchanged in more than 50 million years, but sadly due to habitat destruction and hunting their numbers are fading fast and all five known species could be at risk of disappearing entirely over the next few decades.
Source: Discover Magazine | Comments (10)
Tapir, Amazon, Rainforest