Tapirus kabomani

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Tapirus kabomani
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Tapiridae
Genus: Tapirus
Species: T. kabomani
Binomial name
Tapirus kabomani
Cozzuol, Clozato, Holanda, Rodrigues, Nienow, de Thoisy, Redondo & Santos, 2013

Tapirus kabomani (also known as the little black tapir or kabomani tapir) is one of five extant species of tapir, large browsing mammals similar in shape to a pig. It is the smallest tapir species, even smaller than the smallest previously known tapir called the mountain tapir. Tapirus kabomani is found in the Amazon rainforest, where it appears to be sympatric with the Brazilian tapir, T. terrestris. When it was announced in 2013, Tapirus kabomani was the first odd-toed ungulate discovered in over 100 years.


Generalized depiction of a tapir

With an estimated mass of only 110 kg (240 lb), T. kabomani is the smallest living tapir.[1] For comparison, the mountain tapir has a mass between 150 and 225 kg (331 and 496 lb).[2] Tapirus kabomani is roughly 130 centimetres (51 in) long and 90 centimetres (35 in) in shoulder height.[1]

It has dark grey to dark brown hair. Its legs are short.[1] Males are smaller than females and females have a light throat patch that extends from chin to neck and up to the base of the ears.[1]


Tapirus kabomani is restricted to South America. It has been collected in southern Amazonas (the type locality), Rondônia, and Mato Grosso states in Brazil. The species is also believed to be present in Amazonas department in Colombia, and it may be present in Amapá, Brazil, and in southern French Guiana.[3]


These tapirs are known to eat palm tree leaves and seeds from the genera Attalea and Astrocaryum.[1]


Although it was not formally described until 2013, the possibility that T. kabomani might be a distinct species had been suggested as early as 100 years prior. The first specimen currently recognized as a member of this species was collected on the Roosevelt–Rondon Scientific Expedition. Theodore Roosevelt (1914) believed they had collected a new species,[4] as local hunters recognized two types of tapir in the region[4] and another member of the expedition, Leo E. Miller, suggested that two species were present.[a] Nevertheless, though observed by experts, all tapirs from the expedition have been consistently treated as T. terrestris,[5][6] including specimen AMNH 36661, which is now identified as T. kabomani.[1] Ten years before T. kabomani was formally described, scientists suspected the existence of a new species while examining skulls that did not resemble the skulls of known tapir species.[7] When the species was formally described in December 2013[1] it was the first tapir species discovered since T. bairdii in 1865.[3]

The reality of the species, and whether or not it can be reliably distinguished from Brazilian tapirs, has subsequently been questioned on both morphological and genetic grounds.[8]


The specific epithet derives from arabo kabomani, the word for tapir in the local Paumarí language. The formal description of this tapir did not suggest a common name for the species.[1] The Karitiana tribe call this the little black tapir.[3]


In both morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses,[1] T. kabomani was recovered as the first diverging of the three South American tapirs. Morphological analysis suggested that the closest relative of T. kabomani may be the extinct species Tapirus rondoniensis.[1] Molecular dating methods based on three mitochondrial cytochrome genes gave an approximate divergence time of 0.5 Ma for T. kabomani and the T. terrestrisT. pinchaque clade, while T. pinchaque was found to have arisen within a paraphyletic T. terrestris complex much more recently (in comparison, the split between T. bairdii and the South American tapirs took place around 5 Ma ago).[1]


 T. bairdii (Baird's tapir)

 T. kabomani (kabomani tapir)

 T. terrestris (Brazilian tapir, Ecuador cluster)

 T. pinchaque (mountain tapir)

 T. terrestris (Brazilian tapir, other clusters)

 T. indicus (Malayan tapir)


The species may be relatively common in forest-savanna mosaic habitat (relicts of former cerrado). Nevertheless, the species is threatened by prospects of future habitat loss related to deforestation, development and expanding human populations.[1]


  1. ^ Allen & Miller (1916), pp. 566-567[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cozzuol, M. A.; Clozato, C. L.; Holanda, E. C.; Rodrigues, F. V. H. G.; Nienow, S.; De Thoisy, B.; Redondo, R. A. F.; Santos, F. C. R. (2013). "A new species of tapir from the Amazon". Journal of Mammalogy 94 (6): 1331. doi:10.1644/12-MAMM-A-169.1.  edit
  2. ^ Padilla, M.; Dowler, R. C.; Downer, C. C. (2010). "Tapirus pinchaque (Perissodactyla: Tapiridae)". Mammalian Species 42: 166. doi:10.1644/863.1.  edit
  3. ^ a b c Hance, Jeremy. "Scientists make one of the biggest animal discoveries of the century: a new tapir". Mongabay. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Roosevelt, Theodore (1914). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. C. Scribner. p. 146. 
  5. ^ a b Allen, J. A.; Miller, L. E. (1916). "Mammals collected on the Roosevelt Brazilian Expedition, with field notes by Leo E. Miller". Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. (American Museum of Natural History) 35 (30): 559–610. hdl:2246/1824.  edit
  6. ^ Wood, H. E.; Olsen, G. (1938). "Cooperia totadentata, a remarkable rhinoceros from the Eocene of Mongolia". American Museum Novitates (1012). hdl:2246/2209.  edit
  7. ^ Draxler, B. (2013-12-17). "New Species of Dwarf Tapir Discovered in Amazon Rainforest". Discover magazine web site. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  8. ^ Voss, R.S., Helgen, K.M., & Jansa, S.A. (2014). "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: a comment on Cozzuol et al. (2013)". Journal of Mammalogy 95 (4): 893–898. doi:10.1644/14-MAMM-A-054.