Online Encyclopedia

PECCARY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 32 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PECCARY, the name of the New World representatives of the swine (Suidae) of the E. hemisphere, of which they constitute the sub-family Dicotylinae (or Tagassuinae). (See ARTIODACTYLA and SwnNE.) The teeth of the peccaries differ from those of the typical Old World pigs (Sus), numerically, in wanting the upper outer incisor and the anterior premolar on each side of each jaw, the dental formula being: i. 3i c. }, p. , m. -, total 38. From those of all Old World swine or Suinae, the upper canines, or tusks, differ in having their points directed downwards, not outwards or The Collared Peccary (Dicotyles tajacu). upwards; these being very sharp, with cutting hinder edges, and completely covered with enamel until worn. The lower canines are large and directed upwards and outwards, and slightly curved backwards. The cheek-teeth form a continuous series, gradually increasing in size from the first to the last: the molars having square four-cusped crowns. The stomach is much more complex than in the true pigs, almost approaching that of a ruminant. In the feet the two middle (third and fourth) metacarpal and metatarsal bones, which are completely separate in the pigs, are united at their upper ends. On the fore-foot the two (second and fifth) outer toes are equally developed as in pigs, but on the hind-foot, although the inner (or second) is present, the outer or fifth toe is entirely wanting. As in all Suidae the snout is truncated, and the nostrils are situated in its flat, expanded, disk-like termination. The ears are rather small, ovate and erect; and there is no external appearance of a tail. Peccaries,which range fromNewMexico andTexas to Patagonia, are represented by two main types, of which the first is the collared peccary, Dicotyles (or Tagassu) tajacu, which has an extensive range in South America. Generally it is found singly or in pairs, or at most in small herds of from eight to ten, and is not inclined to attack other animals or human beings. Its colour is dark grey, with a white or whitish band passing across the chest from shoulder to shoulder. The length of the head and body is about 36 in. The second form is typified by the white-lipped peccary or warri, D. (or T.) labiatus, or pecari, representing the sub-genus Olidosus. Typically it is rather larger than the collared species, being about 40 in. in length, of a blackish colour, with the lips and lower jaw white. It isnot found farther north than Guatemala, or south of Paraguay. Generally met with in large droves of from fifty to a hundred, it is of a more pugnacious disposition than the former species, and a hunter who encounters a herd in a forest has often to climb a tree as his only chance of safety. Peccaries are omnivorous, living on roots, fallen fruits, worms and carrion, and often inflict great devastation upon crops. Both types are so nearly allied that they will breed together freely in captivity. Unlike pigs, they never appear to produce more than two young ones at a birth. Remains of extinct peccaries referable to the modern genus occur in the caverns and superficial deposits of South America, but not in the earlier formations. This, coupled with the occurrence of earlier types in North America, indicates that the group is a northern one. Of the extinct North American peccaries, the typical Dicotyles occur in the Pliocene while the Miocene Bothriolabis; which has tusks of the peccary type, approximates in the structure of its cheek-teeth to the European Miocene genus among the Suinae. From this it may be inferred that the ancestral peccaries entered America in the Upper Oligocene. Platygonus is an aberrant type which died out in the Pleistocene. (R. L.*.)
End of Article: PECCARY
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KARL FREDRIK PECHLIN (1720-1796)

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