views updated

Tayassuidae (peccaries; order Artiodactyla, suborder Suiformes) A family of omnivorous animals which are related to pigs but evolutionarily distinct from them for much of the Tertiary. The oldest fossil peccary comes from the Oligocene of N. America. The upper canines form sharp tusks which grow downward, the molars are simpler than those of pigs, and the radius and ulna are fused. There is a scent gland at the centre of the back. Probably peccaries lived in both Old and New Worlds until the Miocene; one survived until the Pliocene in S. Africa. During the Pleistocene they were distributed widely in temperate N. America. They reached S. America during the Pliocene and today they occur throughout most of S. America and as far north as Texas. There are three species, in two genera: Tayassu, containing T. tajacu (the collared peccary) and T. pecari (the white-lipped peccary), and Catagonus, containing one living species, C. wagneri (the Chacoan peccary), known since 1930 as a subfossil but in 1972 discovered to be still living in the Chaco, on the Paraguay–Argentina-Bolivia border.