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  Yahoo News 7 Nov 07
Scientist claims to find new pig species
By Michael Astor, Associated Press

Yahoo News 2 Nov 07
Big Pig-Like Beast Discovered
Robin Lloyd LiveScience Senior Editor

A new species of pig-like mammal called a peccary has been discovered in the southeastern Amazon region of Brazil, a scientist announced today. It is the largest peccary in the world, about the size of a large dog.

The newly named beast (Pecari maximus) was found in the basin of the Rio Aripuanã and confirmed to be a distinct species via a genetic analysis conducted by the Leiden Centre for Environmental Sciences in the Netherlands.

Though new to science, locals already knew about the creature. Tupi Indians called it Caitetu Munde, which means "great peccary which lives in pairs."

Dutch biologist Marc van Roosmalen of the University of Leiden recently was doing some field surveys in the area and saw the unusual mammal.

"One day I was looking at some monkeys, and I saw three peccaries pass in front of me totally silent," van Roosmalen told LiveScience. "They appeared and then disappeared without making any noise."

"Later, I asked the locals what I had seen," he said. "It shows that you really have to see things and then ask people what you've seen. They are not going to tell you otherwise. It's normal to them. It turns out to be their most hunted animal."

The new finding was published in the Oct. 29 issue of the journal Bonner zoologische Beitrage.

Peccaries are hoofed animals closely related to swine and hippopotami. Until now, only three species were known to science—the collared peccary, the white-lipped peccary and the Chaccoan peccary.

Measurements of the new peccary's body and skull confirm that the new species is larger than the other peccary species. The giant peccary has longer legs and its fur markings are completely different, van Roosmalen said.

The new species also behaves differently from its family members, the white-lipped and collared peccaries. These species are very social and found in large to very large groups (even up to hundreds of individual animals in the case of the white-lipped peccary), while the giant peccary is only found in pairs or in small family groups with one or two offspring.

Also, the other peccary types root in the ground for seeds and roots. The giant peccary eats mainly fruit and exhibits little or no rooting behavior.

The giant peccary has a gland that is active in other peccary species and used to mark territories as well as each other. However, the new peccary is scentless, van Roosmalen said.

"I think it's another adaptation to predation pressure from big cats," he said. "Through evolution, they cannot afford to be so stinky as the other ones."

The habitat of the giant peccary is limited to dry wooded areas in a small region of the basin of the Rio Aripuanã. The researchers therefore expect the giant peccary population to be small and recommend that this new species should be placed on the Red List of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Yahoo News 7 Nov 07
Scientist claims to find new pig species
By Michael Astor, Associated Press

A Dutch scientist thinks he has discovered a new species of wild pig nearly twice the size of other pigs in Brazil's Amazon region.

At four feet long and 90 pounds, the pig is the latest in a string of new species that Marc van Roosmalen reported to have found since 1996. His findings were published in the Oct. 29 edition of the German scientific journal Bonner Zoologische Beitrage.

Van Roosmalen, said his discovery of the peccary — a kind of wild pig he dubbed Pecari maximus — points out the need to protect the region as a habitat for wild species.

He said he made his discovery by accident in 2000, while searching for a new monkey species.

"I sensed there was something behind me and looked over my shoulder and saw three huge peccaries walking in a row," he said in an interview. "They came and disappeared like ghosts without making any sounds. That was atypical of peccaries, who always go around making lots of noise."

The region where Roosmalen discovered the new peccary and other species — mostly primates — lies along a logging frontier around Nova Aripuana, where the number of sawmills has grown from two in 2002 to 14 today.

Van Roosmalen said the wild pig species is remarkable for traveling in small groups, usually two adults, sometimes accompanied by one or two offspring, while other types tend to move in large herds. Small groups are more vulnerable to hunters, he said.

DNA analysis showed the animal diverged from the most closely related species, Pecari tajacu, or collared peccary, about 1 million to 1.2 million years ago, Van Roosmalen said.

Scientists said more research is necessary to confirm the species is new.

"The possible discovery of a new peccary species is very exciting, and plausible, considering recent discoveries of new mammal species in the Amazon," said Alexine Keuroghlian, a researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society. But "further research is necessary," she said.

Van Roosmalen's success in discovering new species in the Amazon has earned him international acclaim.

In June, it also earned him a 16-year prison sentence in Brazil for auctioning off naming rights to some of the species to raise money for preserving the wild areas where they live. He is appealing the conviction, in which the court ruled naming rights belong to the government.

Many scientists have denounced his conviction, which includes charges of keeping animals without a permit at his home.

Van Roosmalen was jailed for nearly two months before lawyers won his release Aug. 7.

The lawyers contend the charges were trumped up by local logging interests who fear his discoveries may interfere with their efforts to expand into nearly pristine jungle between the Madeira and Tapajos rivers.

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