Saturday, December 21, 2013

Discovery of New Tapir Species Confirms Native Testimony

Photographs of the newly discovered Kobomani tapir (Image Source is here)
The discovery of the largest new terrestrial mammal species since the Vu Quang Ox (found in 1992) was just announced this past Monday. This breaking finding involved a new species of tapir being discovered in Brazil and Colombia by a team of scientists which had been investigating reports of the animal by local indigenous tribes since ten years ago. The description of the previously unknown perissodactyl named Tapirus kabomani, or the Kobomani tapir, has been published in the Journal of Mammology with the lead author being paleontologist Mario Cozzuol (who first started looking into the indigenous testimony of this animal). The Kobomani tapir is regularly hunted by the Karitiana tribe and lives in open grasslands and rainforests. In comparison to its closest relative, the Brazilian tapir, the Kobomani tapir weighs around 110 kilograms and has darker hair, shorter legs, a distinctly-shaped skull, and a less prominent crest. Genetic research conducted by the authors shows that the Kobomani tapir and Brazilian tapir separated around 300,000 years ago, and it has been hypothesized that the species may have evolved during dry periods of the Pleistocene which were associated with forest fragmentation. While the discovery of this new member of the modern megafauna is exciting in itself, details of how the discovery of this animal came to be make it even more compelling.

The skull of the holotype for the Kobomani tapir (Image Source is here)
According to Mario Cozzuol, the scientific community has long discounted the indigenous people's reports of 'a different kind of anta [Portuguese for tapir]' as misidentification of Brazilian tapirs. Interestingly, Teddy Roosevelt himself had shot a Kobomani tapir in 1912 (the remains of which have sat in New York's Museum of Natural History until being recognized as significant) and wrote that the locals spoke of the animal as a distinct species. Sounding similar to the views expressed by several cryptozoological researchers, Cozzuol stated that "knowledge of the local community needs to be taken into account and that's what we did in our study, which culminated in the discovery of a new species to science." While this discovery does not necessarily support popular cryptozoological hypotheses such as that nonhuman apes are present in North America or unknown tetrapods are thriving in lakes worldwide, it does give credence to the concept that testimony of indigenous people may be reliable enough to warrant investigation into the possible existence of an unknown animal. This compelling finding also gives merit to the idea that new species of large animals remain undiscovered; a thought which fuels great fervor among self-proclaiming zoology nerds such as myself.
To read more about this discovery of a new large species of mammal, click on this link: http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1216-hance-new-tapir-kabomani.html 

4 comments:

  1. Sorry, I meant to publish that on the Christmas post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it is awesome that this new tapir has now been discovered. I predict that the next several years might be a very good time for cryptozoology.

    This discovery proves that, even in the world of 2013, large undiscovered animals still exist. Fascinating.

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    Replies
    1. I agree Troodon Man! This article makes me think that there are A LOT of surprising animal discoveries left: http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1223-top-new-species-2013.html

      Delete

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