Tapirid Fossils: Tapirs | Darwin and Wallace: A Nature & Fossil Store

Tapirid Fossils: Tapirs


        Tapirids (or Tapirs), are stocky, pig-like perissodactyls that are noted for their trunk-like proboscis. The proboscis is highly flexible, and allows tapirs to grab hard-to-reach foliage. In addition to plants in their forest environments, tapirs also eat vegetation within water, where they spend a large amount of their time cooling their large bodies and evading predators. Tapirs evolved during the Eocene epoch in North America, approximately 50 million years ago. The earliest known tapirs, such as Dilophodon, lacked the flexible trunk that their descendants would later possess. Within the Miocene epoch, tapirs would come to adapt their long proboscis, as well as begin to move westward over the Bering land bridge from North America and into Eurasia. During the Pliocene epoch of approximately 3 million years ago, tapirs would also move into South America along with several other North American animals. Within the great Ice Age of the Pleistocene epoch, tapirs would become extinct in their homeland of North America, as well as within Europe and most of Asia. Today tapirs exist only in Central and South America, along with a single species in Southeast Asia.

 Click on the images below to see the incredible fossils we offer in our Tapirid selection: