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Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri) Fact Sheet: Taxonomy & History

Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri)

Taxonomy and Nomenclature

  • The word peccary is believed to originate from pakirá, a name for peccaries in a Guiana dialect of a Carib root word.
  • One derivation of the word Chaco is the Quechuan chacu, meaning an abundance of animal life.
  • Native names for Chacoan peccary include: taguá (a Guaraní name referring to its ability to make paths into virtually impenetrable areas), curé-buró (a word of Guaraní and Spanish origin, which means "pig-burro" in reference to its long ears), pecari quimilero, and chancho quimilero; the quimil cactus, Opuntia quimilo, is an important source of food and water for the Chacoan peccary.

Evolutionary History

  • Fossils of the family Tayassuidae are known from America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, but most of the fossil record is from North America. True pigs, family Suidae, never occurred naturally in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Tayassuids diverged from a common ancestor with suids in Eurasia during the late Eocene.
  • Living (extant) species of peccary (Gongora et al. 2017):
    • Chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri)
    • South American collared peccary (Pecari tajacu)
    • North American collared peccary (Pecari angulatus)
    • Central American collared peccary (Pecari crassus)
    • White-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari)
      • Some authorities recognize only 3 peccary species
  • Prior to 1972, C. wagneri was known only as an extinct species from the pre-Hispanic period of Argentina.
  • Skeletal data indicate that the closest living relative of the Chacoan peccary is the collared peccary; however, mitochondrial-DNA evidence points to the white-lipped peccary as being its closest living relative. Catagonus, Pecari, and Tayassu apparently diverged in North America during the Pliocene and before they colonized South America.
  • Benirschke & Kumamoto (1989) suggest, on the basis of chromosome number (2n), that P. tajacu (2n = 30) and T. pecari (2n = 26) are closer than C. wagneri (2n = 20) to the ancestral chromosome number. On the other hand, skeletal material indicates that T. pecari is the most modern of peccary species.


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia (Linnaeus, 1758) - mammals

Order: Artiodactyla* (or Cetartiodactyla) (Owen, 1848) - even-toed hoofed animals (includes pigs, sheep goats, cattle, deer)

Family: Tayassuidae (Palmer, 1897) - peccaries

Genus: Catagonus (Ameghino, 1904)

Species: Catagonus wagneri (Rusconi, 1930**) - Chacoan peccary

Sources: Gongora et al. 2017; Integrated Taxonomic Information System (2017)

*New anatomical and DNA evidence on the relationship between Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) and Cetacea (whales and dolphins) recently led to a merging of the two orders into a new group, Cetartiodactyla (Montgelard, 1997; reviewed in Kulemzina, 2009). As of October 2012, experts had not agreed on whether to define Cetartiodactyla as an official taxonomic order that would replace Artiodactyla and Cetacea. Some continue to list bison in the order Artiodactyla (Franklin, 2011) or use the term Cetartiodactyla without defining it as an order (IUCN, 2008).

**Describer: C. Rusconi (1930). Las especies fósiles argentinas de pecaríes (Tayassuidae) y sus relaciones con las del Brasil y Norte América. Anales del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de "Bernardino Rivadavia," 36:121-241.

Page Citations

Mares et al. (1989)
Mayer & Brandt (1982)
Mayer & Wetzel (1986)
McKenna & Bell (1997)
Nowak (1999)
Redford & Eisenberg (1992)
Simpson (1980)
Sowls (1997)
Theimer & Keim (1998)
Wetzel (1977)
Wetzel et al. (1975)
Wright (1989)
Yahnke et al. (1997)

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