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Tapir: An Ancient Amazonian printer.gif

What do you get when you cross a rhinoceros with a horse? A tapir!

Tapirs are not only interesting-looking animals, they have an impressive history. Their fossil records go back nearly 20-million years! Ancient tapirs would not have looked much different from the tapirs today, although their noses didn't grow to the present length until the last few million years.

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What a Beauty!

A Tapir is a huge animal. The average adult weighs 330 - 660 pounds and can grow well over 6 feet in length.

The most noticeable feature of the tapir is its nose. A tapir's nose looks and functions like a shortened version of an elephant's trunk. It can move its nose in all directions and grab food with it.

Tapirs are herbivores. They eat mostly plant matter that they find on the ground or at eye level. For the majority of the day, tapirs search for food. They are big animals, so it'™s hard for them to get through the thick rainforest. They carve paths through the forest like bulldozers and generally forage along them with their noses to the ground.

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For being so big and awkward-looking, tapirs are very fast runners and agile athletes. They can out-maneuver a dog, run up steep mountain-sides and even swim.

We wi™ll search for well-worn tapir trails. Although, I am not sure that I would want to try to out-run a tapir in the rainforest.

For further exploration, check out the following web sites.

Wilderness Classroom's Rainforest Library: Tapirs

National Geographic's Animal Photos and Facts

The Tapir Gallery

The Belize Zoo's Animal Facts: Tapirs

How should we change our habits to help the planet?

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