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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Creature Feature: Babirusa.

Quick. When I say the word "pig," what is the first creature that pops into your head?





More likely than not, your mind immediately jumped to Babe, Gordy, or any other number of strange talking pigs. Whichever pig came to mind, it was pink, slightly fuzzy, and adorable as all get-out. Then you might have done some homework and realized that they polluted as badly as Spider-Pig from the Simpsons movie. Still no big deal, right?

Not all pigs are cute and fuzzy. Domestic pigs originated from wild boars, bristly creatures known for charging ahead at full speed and goring people with their tusks. Pigs have a good variety of wild relatives that look like regular pigs a la H.P. Lovecraft, but even Spider-Pig will not save you from the pig that dwells in the corners of your nightmares.



As the video says, the babirusa, a unique type of wild pig (with its own genus Babyrousa), is native to the jungles of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Although the females and piglets look like normal wild boars - the ancestors of the domestic pig - the male sports the most unusual tusk display of all swine.

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Besides sporting (relatively) normal tusks, male babirusa have two teeth growing, and curling, right through their skulls. This is thought to be a visible sign of strength. Since it takes balls for someone to get diamond bling on their teeth, having teeth grow through one's skull is probably the porcine equivalent.


If you think these are extreme, imagine diamonds IN your teeth. If pigs had fashion, I'm sure we'd see babirusa dentures popping up.

Naturally, the natives of Sulawesi and the few other Indonesian islands that babirusa are found on have taken notice of its strange appearance. One theory for its unusual range (Sula and Sulawesi, with no babirusa on the islands in-between) is that they were exchanged among royalty. The four-tusked rakasa present in a few Indonesian Hindu temples also have roots in one of Wilbur's most bizarre, intimidating cousins. That doesn't mean that they could not make for interesting movie monsters.



If Doctor Who can use rhino-headed aliens, why not make an alien race based off of babirusa?

2 comments:

  1. http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2010/02/raksasa_babirusa_pt_i.php

    This 4-part article series on Babirusa may interest you. XD

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  2. Yeah, I found those while pawing around for pics. Interesting piggies, aren't they? :D

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