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Extinct California Tapir (Tapirus californicus) Fact Sheet: Behavior & Ecology

California Tapir (Tapirus californicus)

How Do We Know This?

Because direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible, paleontologists use comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can sometimes reveal further clues to behavior. At a fossil site, the mix of plant and animal species gives clues to the ecosystem of that time and place.

Social Life

  •  Believed to be solitary and non-territorial (Janis 1984)

Interspecies Interactions

  • Modern tapirs are recognized to have an important role in dispersing seeds and fertilizing fruiting trees (Downer 2001).
  • Feeding habits of Pleistocene tapirs might have been similar.

Other Behaviors

  • May have enjoyed mud wallowing like modern tapirs
    • California tapir fossis have been found near Oceanside; at the same site, tracks of mammoth or mastodont were discovered in the Pleistocene lake-shore sediments. (Randal et al 2004)

Page Citations

Randal (2004)
Janis (1984)

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