Photographs of the newly discovered Kabomani 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 Kabomani tapir, has been published in the Journal of Mammology with the lead author being paleontologist Mario Cozzuol. The Kabomani 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 Kabomani 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 Kabomani 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.