An engraving of
| Fig. 1 | Fig. 2 | Fig. 3 | Fig. 4 |
This is a page from a 19th Century book written in French. The first figure is labelled "Le Tapir," while the second is labelled "Le Maïpouri." It's an interesting engraving, and presents a problem I haven't been able to solve positively. Figure 2 is clearly a lowland tapir. Although Figure 1 does not look like a tapir, it may in fact be an early representation of a juvenile tapir. The hooves on "Le Maïpouri" have toes, whereas "Le Tapir" has cloven hooves. I had thought maybe Figure 1 was a mislabelled sheep (with spots?), but in his 1940s newspaper article (?), Animal Life in British Guiana, V. Roth says that the Indians call the tapir "Maipuri." Since a young tapir has spots and stripes, my best guess is that both the top figures are meant to represent tapirs. Perhaps when this engraving was made, it wasn't known that the small spotted animal and the large non-spotted animal were related - hence the two different kinds of feet.
Figure 3 is a capybara ("Le Cabiai") and Figure 4 is a hippo ("L'Hippopotame"). Interestingly, the hippopotamus has scales that look somewhat fishlike. These can be seen in the enlargement.
I obtained this engraving about 1970 from one of those picturesque bookseller's stalls along the Seine in Paris. The booksellers would often remove plates from old books and sell them separately, so I never did see the entire book. According to the print, it was entitled, Histoire Naturelle, and the chapter from which this plate was taken was called "Quadrupèdes." These four particular animals were probably chosen to illustrate the diversity of foot structure among quadrupeds. The first has cloven hooves, the second a four-and-three toe configuration, the third has four-and-three also (but webbed and with claws), and the fourth has four toes per foot.
All tapirs are endangered species.
Saving tapirs helps save the rainforest.
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