Biggest Zoological Discovery of the 21st Century

Posted by: Ken Gerhard on December 17th, 2013

In what has been a big year for the field of cryptozoology, this may end up being one of the most important events. The significance of finding large, new species cannot be overstated…

Scientists have uncovered a new tapir in Brazil: Tapirus kabomani. Photo courtesy of: Cozzuol et al.

In what will likely be considered one of the biggest (literally) zoological discoveries of the Twenty-First Century, scientists today announced they have discovered a new species of tapir in Brazil and Colombia. The new mammal, hidden from science but known to local indigenous tribes, is actually one of the biggest animals on the continent, although it’s still the smallest living tapir. Described in the Journal of Mammology, the scientists have named the new tapir Tapirus kabomani after the name for “tapir” in the local Paumari language: “Arabo kabomani.”

Tapirus kabomani, or the Kobomani tapir, is the fifth tapir found in the world and the first to be discovered since 1865. It is also the first mammal in the order Perissodactyla (which includes tapirs, rhinos, and horses) found in over a hundred years. Moreover, this is the largest land mammal to be uncovered in decades: in 1992 scientists discovered the saola in Vietnam and Cambodia, a rainforest bovine that is about the same size as the new tapir.

Found inhabiting open grasslands and forests in the southwest Amazon (the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Amazonas, as well as the Colombian department of Amazonas), the new species is regularly hunted by the Karitiana tribe who call it the “little black tapir.” The new species is most similar to the Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris), but sports darker hair and is significantly smaller: while a Brazilian tapir can weigh up to 320 kilograms (710 pounds), the Kabomani weighs-in around 110 kilograms (240 pounds). Given its relatively small size it likely won’t be long till conservationists christen it the pygmy or dwarf tapir. It also has shorter legs, a distinctly-shaped skull, and a less prominent crest.

“[Indigenous people] traditionally reported seeing what they called ‘a different kind of anta [tapir in Portuguese].’ However, the scientific community has never paid much attention to the fact, stating that it was always the same Tapirus terrestris,” explains lead author Mario Cozzuol, the paleontologist who first started investigating the new species ten years ago. “They did not give value to local knowledge and thought the locals were wrong. Knowledge of the local community needs to be taken into account and that’s what we did in our study, which culminated in the discovery of a new species to science.”

Read the rest of the story and see additional photos here: Scientists make one of the biggest animal discoveries of the century: a new tapir

Ken Gerhard About Ken Gerhard
Ken has investigated reports of mysterious beasts around the world including Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, giant winged creatures and even werewolves. In addition to appearing in three episodes of the television series Monster Quest (History Channel), Ken is featured in the History Channel special The Real Wolfman, as well as Legend Hunters (Travel Channel/A&E), Paranatural (National Geographic), Ultimate Encounters (truTV) and William Shatner's Weird or What? (History Television). His credits include multiple appearances on Coast to Coast AM, major news broadcasts and Ireland’s Newstalk radio, as well as being featured in major books and in articles by the Associated Press, Houston Chronicle and Tampa Tribune. Ken is author of the books Big Bird: Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters and A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures, as well as the co-author of Monsters of Texas (with Nick Redfern) and has contributed to trade publications including Fate Magazine, Animals and Men, The Journal of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club and Bigfoot Times. He currently lectures and exhibits at events across America. Born on Friday the 13th of October, 1967 (exactly one week before the famous Patterson Bigfoot film was shot), Ken has traveled to twenty-six different countries on six continents and most of the United States. An avid adventurer, he has camped along the Amazon, explored the Galapagos, hiked the Australian Outback and has visited many ancient and mysterious sites, from Machu Pichu to Stonehenge.

8 Responses to “Biggest Zoological Discovery of the 21st Century”

  1. Robert J North via Facebook responds:

    Why is it that whenever natives say they see an animal that “civilized” people have never seen, they always get brushed off always to be proven right later?

  2. DWA responds:

    Two things.

    1. Not really that big a deal. It is understandable that people didn’t automatically think “new species.” Show me those pictures, with nothing else, and I’d say, oh, tapir. The saola, now that was different.

    2. MAJOR point made about native informants. They knew it was different; the differences were small enough to be missed by Westerners (just as the Sunda clouded leopard’s differences were…even though they stuck out when I saw the pictures). This is for sure a point worth talking about with regard to species like sasquatch. The local people know what the local animals are. Their statements should be given scientific attention.

  3. Cynthia Dobbins via Facebook responds:


  4. Anja Drescher via Facebook responds:

    As awesome it is, we could have discovered so much earlier, listen to the people who have the true knowledge. The arrogance of civilization pisses me off. I would trust a local before any other.

  5. alan borky responds:

    “The significance of finding large, new species cannot be overstated…”

    Then shouldn’t Tapirus kabomani be renamed Tapirus KABOOMani?

    “the scientific community…did not give value to local knowledge and thought the locals were wrong.”

    Much like they do when the indigenous North American species Joe Sixpacki reports similar anomalous observations.

    AKA the doctrine “Don’t trust your eyes trust ours…even tho’ we weren’t actu’ly there.”

  6. Jonathan Poulsen responds:

    That’s great that we’ve discovered a megafauna species such as this, but I have a feeling this is far from the discovery of the century.

  7. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    I think the biggest zoological find of this century might have something to do with life on Mars or one of the newly discovered planets similar to Earth.

  8. Goodfoot responds:


    Discovery of water, yes. Discovery of fauna, absolutely not, so far. We won’t discover the Martians for a long time yet. HINT HINT: they look like rocks! 😉

    Kidding, also not kidding.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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