'Giant' pig-like animal discovered hidden in remote Amazon jungle - Nature - Environment - The Independent

'Giant' pig-like animal discovered hidden in remote Amazon jungle

A A A

A large, pig-like mammal previously unknown to science has been discovered in the depths of Brazil's Amazon rain forest. The creature has been called a "giant" because it grows to a length of more than four feet and is almost twice as heavy as other members of the peccary family.

The giant peccary (Pecari maximus) stayed completely hidden from the modern world until skins and bones of animals killed by local hunters came to the attention of Marc van Roosmalen, a Dutch primatologist, who captured four of the creatures on film.

Tupi Indians call the animal caitetu munde, meaning "great peccary which lives in pairs". It is only known to live along the banks of the Aripuana river and its tributaries

Although only just discovered, the species may already be endangered by illegal logging. Roads have been cut through the area, linking it to centres of high population and opening it up agriculture. "We fear that commercial hunters using trained dogs will focus on caitetu munde to feed hungry settlers," Dr Van Roosmalen said. Scientists have recommend that the animal be placed on the Red List of threatened species run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Describing the animal in the journal Bonner Zoologische Beitrage, Dr Van Roosmalen and colleagues from Germany and the Netherlands wrote: "Pecari maximus walks silently through its preferred habitat – dense terra firma climax forest – in small family groups that contain only an adult pair with or without 1-2 offspring."

The giant peccary is larger than its cousins, but is more slightly built, with longer legs and a relatively small head. It also has different markings. While its relatives dig up the ground in search of seeds and roots, Pecari maximus lives mostly off freshly fallen fruit.

Although this is the first official sighting, it is thought that the animal may have been spotted almost a century ago by an American rubber-cutter, John Yungjohann, who worked in the Amazon from 1906 to 1919. In his book White Gold, he gives an account of the local animals, mentioning three types of "bush pig" including a "great big one".

Peccaries have a long history in North America, appearing in the fossil record about 32 million years ago. Along with llamas and tapirs, they reached South America about three million years ago when the Isthmus of Panama formed.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher required for a lovely Ramsgate Secondary School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is working in...

SEN Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher loo...

Teacher

£110 - £125 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randsta...

Year 2 Teacher and Group Lead

£110 - £125 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randsta...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week