New Pig Species Discovered

A new species of peccary has been discovered in the Amazon. It’s different from other peccaries in that it appears to be a frugivore. It also lives in pairs or very small family groups. This is, of course, exactly what one might expect. Frugovores eat high quality food, while the other peccaries eat lower quality food. Higher quality food is rare and dispersed so it is difficult to get into larger groups.

A huge, undiscovered animal lurking in the Amazon rain forest? When pigs fly, you might say.

But recently, Dutch biologist Marc van Roosmalen spotted a new species of peccary–a type of large wild pig–in the Rio Aripuanã region of southeastern Brazil.

The newly christened giant peccary shares few similarities with its two relatives, the white-lipped and collared peccaries, both found in the same area.

[source]

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This is a very large animal, which is actually opposite expectations … we would expect the larger animal to be the one eating the lower quality food. But what really counts is total demand (body mass, roughly) of the social group, because that is the unit in which competition for food would occur.

Naturally, there are fears that the peccary will be threatened by hunting, which may be on the increase in this area.

About twenty years ago, roughly the time when two large mammal species were discovered in Viet Nam, it was actually possible to demonstrate that the rate of new mammal species being discovered per decade was steady, not declining, for about a hundred years or so. But now, my impression is that it is not declining. But clearly, it is not zero!

Comments

  1. #1 Homer Simpson
    November 6, 2007

    Mmmmmmm bacon…..

  2. #2 manny
    November 6, 2007

    Is this an old species that, somehow, went unnoticed for centuries or is this a truly new species?

    I’ve read that, every year on Earth, we should see three new species and three species going extinct. Extinction tends to occur in mass extinction episodes but new species should arise regularly. Is this pig a new one?

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