Surely you have seen this animal! I thought that I was basically familiar with most of the major mammals, until this one was shown to me, today. I may have seen it before. Yet, like many people, I simply thought that it was some kind of pig.
These animals, babirusa (singular and plural pronunciation), are found only on the islands of Indonesia. It has a classification as a kind of pig, yet research shows that the animal is more closely related to the hippopotamus. It is a genetic extension, separating from the now extinct Europenan pig called a grice, some thirty-five million years ago. Currently, babirusa are species of wild pigs found within these Asian islands, whereas similar wild pigs reside within Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Male babirusa have extremely long upper and lower canine teeth. I guess that they can be called upward tusks. The upper canines are unusual not because of their length, but due to the fact that they grow up through the animals’ snouts! The lowr canines extend out of the mouth, reaching upward, and alongside the babirusa’s face. Looking at the animal might give one images of something out of the movie Predators!
Babirusa generally are born within litters of one to three piglets. They are born with more complex digestive systems than other pigs, as babirusa have two-chambered stomachs which allow them to digest fiber through microbial fermentation. This means that things eaten are broken down by enzymes within the babirusa to minute levels, and the received energy is transported throughout the animal at the cellular level.
The fact that this animal has such extreme tusks is what lead to it’s name. Babirusa means “pig-deer”. These animals usually are brown or gray, and their underbellies are usually more pale-colored. It is the male barbirusa that has the exceptionally long tusks, which extend up and through it’s snout, then they curve back alongside it’s head.
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