Wednesday, April 23, 2014
T is for Tapir
The tapir looks like a pig, only with a more flexible snout. Except, it's not a pig. It's more closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. About 55 million years ago, there were some odd-toed ungulates hanging around in Asia. Some of them said, "We're going to evolve into magnificent creatures that will gallop and whinny." Others said, "We will evolve into formidable creatures with horns growing out of our faces." The tapir ancestors said, "We're going to evolve into pig-like animals, but with a more flexible snout." The others said, "Have it your way."
Tapirs don't have many natural predators, but due to habitat loss are considered vulnerable.
They keep their snouts to the ground in search of food, and enjoy nothing more than wallowing in some nice refreshing mud to cool down. Tapirs are very nice animals and they deserve all good things, but their lifestyle sounds a little like a pig, doesn't it? Again, I'm not judging, I'm just observing. This is what scientists call "convergent evolution." Species that occupy similar niches in similar habitats end up adapting in similar ways. Bottom line, if you live like a pig for long enough, eventually you'll turn into one.