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A peccary (also javelina or skunk pig) is a medium-sized
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and ani ...

pig
-like hoofed mammal of the family Tayassuidae (New World pigs). They are found throughout
Central Central is an adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign languag ...

Central
and
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
,
Trinidad Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands of Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean The Caribbean ( ...

Trinidad
in the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles ...
, and in the
southwestern The points of the compass are the vectors Vector may refer to: Biology *Vector (epidemiology), an agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism; a disease vector *Vector (molecular biology), a DNA mole ...
area of
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
. They usually measure between in length, and a full-grown adult usually weighs about . Peccaries are social creatures that live in herds. They eat roots, grubs, and a variety of foods. They can identify each other by their strong odors. A group of peccaries that travel and live together is called a "squadron". A squadron of peccaries averages between six and nine members. The last common ancestors of peccaries and other even-toed ungulates were vaguely piglike animals that lived over 50 million years ago. Peccaries evolved in Europe about 30 million years ago and spread across much of the world. In the Old World, peccaries went extinct, but they survived in North America. About three million years ago, peccaries spread into South America. They are often confused "many people confuse them with domestic pigs gone wild" with feral domestic pigs of the Old World (family
Suidae Suidae is a family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideal ...
), commonly known as "
razorback The feral pig is a domestic pig which has gone feral (or was born feral, as offspring to feral parents), meaning it lives in the wild. They are found mostly in Americas, the Americas and Australia. In some countries, the terms ''razorback'' ...

razorback
" hogs in many parts of the US, when the two occur in the wild in similar ranges.
Mayan Mayan most commonly refers to: * Maya peoples, various indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica and northern Central America * Maya civilization, pre-Columbian culture of Mesoamerica and northern Central America * Mayan languages, language family spoken i ...
s kept herds of peccaries, using them in rituals and for food. They are kept as pets in many countries, in addition to being raised on farms as a source of food.


Etymology

The word "peccary" is derived from the Carib word or . In
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
, a peccary is called , , , or , among other names. In
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, it is called , (a word also used to describe
wild boar The wild boar (''Sus scrofa''), also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and ...

wild boar
), , or . The word "javelina" derives from the Spanish word for "wild boar". In
French Guiana French Guiana ( or ; french: link=no, Guyane ) is an overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity A single territorial collectivity (french: collectivité territoriale ''unique'') is a chartered subdivision of France ...

French Guiana
and
Suriname Suriname () or Surinam, officially known as the Republic of Suriname ( nl, Republiek Suriname ), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a rela ...

Suriname
, the animal is called ''pakira''. The scientific name Tayassuidae derives the same source as the Portuguese .


Characteristics

A peccary is a medium-sized animal, with a strong resemblance to a
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and ani ...
. Like a pig, it has a
snout A snout is the protruding portion of an animal's face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw. In many animals, the structure is called a muzzle, rostrum, or proboscis Convolvulus hawk-moth (''Agrius convolvuli'') feeding with extended probos ...
ending in a
cartilaginous Cartilage (cartilaginous tissue) is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue Elastic is a word often used to describe or identify certain types of elastomer An elastomer is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-m ...

cartilaginous
disc, and eyes that are small relative to its head. Also like a pig, it uses only the middle two digits for walking, although, unlike pigs, the other toes may be altogether absent. Its
stomach The stomach is a muscular, in the of humans and many other animals, including several s. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ. In the digestive system the stomach is involved in the second phase of digestion, ...

stomach
is not
ruminating Ruminants are herbivorous mammals of the suborder Ruminantia that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions. The pr ...
, although it has three chambers, and is more complex than those of pigs. Peccaries are
omnivores An omnivore () is an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. Al ...
and will eat insects, grubs, and occasionally small animals, although their preferred foods consist of
root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), form a large grou ...

root
s,
grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain ...

grass
es,
seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was released to generally positi ...

seed
s,
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
, and
cacti A cactus (plural cacti, cactuses, or less commonly, cactus) is a member of the plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light en ...

cacti
—particularly . Pigs and peccaries can be differentiated by the shape of the canine tooth, or
tusk Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcified Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in a Tissue (biology), body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone, but calc ...

tusk
. In European pigs, the tusk is long and curves around on itself, whereas in peccaries, the tusk is short and straight. The jaws and tusks of peccaries are adapted for crushing hard seeds and slicing into plant roots, and they also use their tusks for defending against predators. The
dental formula Dentition pertains to the development of teeth and their arrangement in the mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their par ...

dental formula
for peccaries is: By rubbing the tusks together, they can make a chattering noise that warns potential
predators Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common List of feeding behaviours, feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation (which ...

predators
to stay away. In recent years in northwestern
Bolivia Bolivia ; ay, Wuliwya ; Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''Puliwya'' , officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The constitutional capital is Sucre, while the seat of g ...

Bolivia
near Madidi, Madidi National Park, large groups of peccaries have been reported to have seriously injured or killed people. Peccaries are social animals, often forming herds. Over 100 individuals have been recorded for a single herd of white-lipped peccaries, but collared and Chacoan peccaries usually form smaller groups. Such social behavior seems to have been the situation in extinct peccaries, as well. The recently discovered giant peccary (''Pecari maximus'') of Brazil appears to be less social, primarily living in pairs. Peccaries rely on their social structure to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature, and interact socially. Peccaries have scent glands below each eye and another on their backs, though these are believed to be rudimentary organ, rudimentary in ''P. maximus''. They scent marking, use the scent to mark herd territories, which range from . They also mark other herd members with these scent glands by rubbing one against another. The pungent odor allows peccaries to recognize other members of their herd, despite their myopic vision. The odor is strong enough to be detected by humans, which earns the peccary the nickname of "skunk pig".


Species


Extant species

Three (possibly four) living species of peccaries are found from the Southwestern United States through Central America and into
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
and Trinidad, each in their own genera. *''Tayassu'' **White-lipped peccary (''T. pecari'') *''Catagonus'' **Chacoan peccary (''C. wagneri'') *''Collared peccary, Dicotyles'' **Collared peccary (''D. tajacu'') The collared peccary (''Dicotyles tajacu'') or "musk hog", referring to the animal's scent glands, occurs from the Southwestern United States into South America and the island of Trinidad. The coat consists of wiry peppered black, gray, and brown hair with a lighter colored "collar" circling the shoulders. They bear young year-round, but most often between November and March, with the average litter size consisting of two to three offspring. They are found in many habitats, from arid scrublands to humid tropical rain forests. The collared peccary is well-adapted to habitat disturbed by humans, merely requiring sufficient cover. They can be Urban wildlife, found in cities and agricultural land throughout their range. Notable populations exist in the suburbs of Phoenix metropolitan area, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, where they feed on ornamental plants and other cultivated vegetation. There are also urban populations as far north as Prescott, Arizona, Sedona, Arizona where they have been known to fill a niche similar to raccoons and other urban scavengers. In Arizona they are often called by their Spanish name "javelinas". Collared peccaries are generally found in bands of 8 to 15 animals of various ages. They defend themselves if they feel threatened, but otherwise tend to ignore humans. A second species, the white-lipped peccary (''Tayassu pecari''), is mainly found in rainforests of Central and South America, but also known from a wide range of other habitats such as dry forests, grasslands, mangrove, cerrado, and dry xerophytic areas. The two main threats to their survival are deforestation and hunting. The third species, the Chacoan peccary (''Catagonus wagneri''), is the closest living relative to the extinct ''Platygonus pearcei''. It is found in the dry shrub habitat or Gran Chaco, Chaco of Paraguay,
Bolivia Bolivia ; ay, Wuliwya ; Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''Puliwya'' , officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The constitutional capital is Sucre, while the seat of g ...

Bolivia
, and Argentina. The Chacoan peccary has the distinction of having been first described based on fossils and was originally thought to be an extinct species. In 1975, the animal was discovered in the Chaco region of Paraguay. The species was well known to the native people. A fourth as yet unconfirmed species, the giant peccary (''Dicotyles maximus''), was described from the Brazilian Amazon and north Bolivia by Dutch biologist Marc van Roosmalen. Though relatively recently discovered, it has been known to the local Tupi people as ''caitetu munde'', which means "great peccary which lives in pairs". Thought to be the largest extant peccary, it can grow to in length. Its pelage is completely dark gray, with no collars whatsoever. Unlike other peccaries, it lives in pairs, or with one or two offspring. However, the scientific evidence for considering it as a species separate from the collared peccary has later been questioned, leading the IUCN to treat it as a Synonym (taxonomy), synonym. File:Collared Peccary444.jpg, Collared peccary File:Tayassu pecari.jpg, White-lipped peccary File:Catagonus wagneri closeup.jpg, Chacoan peccary


Extinct genera

In addition, Tayassuidae have a well-attested fossil record, and numerous extinct genera are known: * †''Aptenohyus'' * †''Cynorca'' * †''Egatochoerus'' * †''Floridachoerus'' * †''Macrogenis'' * †''Mckennahyus'' * †''Mylohyus'' * †''Perchoerus'' * †''Platygonus'' * †''Prochoerus'' * †''Prosthennops'' * †''Simojovelhyus'' * †''Skinnerhyus'' * †''Thinohyus'' * †''Woodburnehyus''


Evolution

Peccaries first appeared in the fossil records of the Late Eocene or Early Oligocene periods in Europe. Fossils have later been found in all continents except Australia and Antarctica. Peccaries became extinct in the Old World sometime after the Miocene period, possibly because of competition from evolving Suidae, pigs. Extinct genera include the Miocene-aged ''Macrogenis'' and ''Floridachoerus''.White, T. E. 1942. The Lower Miocene mammal fauna of Florida. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 92(1):1–49. ''Simojovelhyus'', known from a lower partial mandible with three molars from late Oligocene strata near the town of Simojovel in Chiapas, Mexico, was originally described as a helohyidae, helohyid. Although common in South America today, peccaries did not reach there until about three million years ago during the Great American Interchange, when the Isthmus of Panama formed, connecting North America and South America. At that time, many North American animals—including peccaries, llamas and tapirs—entered South America, while some South American species, such as the ground sloths and opossums, migrated north. Several species of peccary across the genera ''Platygonus'' and ''Mylohyus'' remained in North America until their extinction following the colonization of the continent by humans via Beringia at the end of the Pleistocene. Today, 2 of the 3 species are relegated to the Neotropical realm, but the collared peccary ranges into northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.


Domestication

Peccaries bear a superficial resemblance to pigs and are in the same suborder Suina as swine, and have been present in South America since prehistoric times. The earliest scientific description of peccaries in the New World is in Brazil in 1547 and referred to them as "wild pigs". It has been documented that peccaries were tamed, penned, and raised for food and ritual purposes in the Yucatan, Panama, the southern Caribbean, and Colombia at the time of the Conquest. Archaeological remains of peccaries have been found in Mesoamerica from the Preclassic (or Formative) period up until immediately before Spanish contact. Specifically, peccary remains have been found at Early Formative Olmec civilization sites. The peccary is not readily suitable for modern captive breeding, lacking suitable characteristics for intensive or semi-intensive systems. Peccaries require a higher age before they are able to give birth (parturition) and have a tendency towards infanticide.


Relation with feral pigs

Recently established Brazilian boar populations are not to be confused with long-established populations of feral domestic pigs, which have existed mainly in the Pantanal for more than 100 years, along with native peccaries. The demographic dynamics of the interaction between feral pig populations and those of the two native species of peccaries (collared peccary and white-lipped peccary) is obscure and is still being studied. The existence of feral pigs could somewhat ease jaguar predation on peccary populations, as jaguars show a preference for hunting pigs when they are available.


References


External links


Arizona Game and Fish Department – Living With JavelinaArizona State Parks and Trails- Javelina
{{Authority control Peccaries, Even-toed ungulates Ungulates of Central America Mammals of South America Priabonian first appearances Extant Eocene first appearances Taxa named by Theodore Sherman Palmer