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(Babyrousa celebensis).jpg

With the male’s curling tusks, this (Babyrousa celebensis) is one of the world’s most bizarre looking mammals. Indeed, so bizarre is this animal’s appearance that it has inspired some Indonesian people to make demonic masks based on them and even offer the animals themselves as gifts to visitors. The name babirusa means ‘pig-deer’ and refers to its appearance as a mix between a pig and a deer. Babirusas are in fact members of the pig family, and there are currently three species of babirusa recognised. The North Sulawesi babirusa is the largest of the three species and also the least hairy, with just a sparse covering of barely discernable hairs on its rough, brownish-grey skin. The remarkable tusks of the male are actually the babirusa’s upper canines, which penetrate through the skin of the nose and then curve over the face towards the forehead. The sharp-tipped lower canines also protrude out from the jaw. The canines of the smaller female Sulawesi babirusa are either absent, or very much reduced. Although the function of these peculiar tusks is not clear, their brittle, easily breakable nature means they are rarely used in combat.




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