Sunday, 17 February 2013

Babirusa

Image: su-lin
Ah... This reminds me of my all-time favourite episode of The Simpsons: 9F15 - Last Exit to Springfield. It's the one where Lisa Needs Braces. She also sings a great song: "they have the plant but we have the power" and Mr. Burns at one point says:

Look at them all, through the darkness I'm bringing
They're not sad at all, they're actually singing!
They sing without juicers
They sing without blenders
They sing without flunjers, capdabblers and smendlers

But mainly Lisa Needs Braces.

Yes, I own an episode guide.

Image: Zruda
Babirusas are four species of big, fat pigs found on a few islands in Indonesia. The most famous one is the North Sulawesi Babirusa, Babyrousa celebensis, which is about 1 metre (3.3 feet) long and almost hairless. Others are a little smaller or larger, more hairy and have tufty tails.

Image: weesen
Dental floss first, THEN sleep
Also teeth. Males of the species have exceedingly... noticeable canines. If we did an MRI scan of your brain as you look at the Babirusa, we'd find the "look at those massive teeth!" part of the brain. These are car crash teeth, people.

Image: sorisoro
Peaceful and troubling. Like a baby with devil horns
The lower ones are bad enough, being big and long and curvy. But the upper ones? The upper ones grow downward at first, like any right-minded tooth in an upper jaw. But then the very dental socket in which they are embedded rotates, forcing the upper canines to grow upward against their will and against all reason. Eventually they grow right through the snout, and then they get all big and long and curvy.

Image: Didier Descouens
Hey, is that one of those Fibonacci things?
These tusks usually curve enough to be no danger to their bearer, but...

Image source
Too late for braces
Self-impalement can happen. These are car crash teeth, after all.

Image: Restless mind
It's a long wait in the dentist's waiting room
The question is what are these tusks even for? They don't seem to be great for digging into the ground to get food. Babirusas only delve into soft mud and they eat a huge range of plant life supplemented with meat and carrion. They're real omnivores, and can even stand up on their hind legs to reach leaves! And it all goes into a strange stomach which looks more like that of a ruminant than a normal pig.

Image: Megan Choo
I'm a sleeper, not a fighter
Another time they stand on their hind legs is to fight. Males are solitary and if they decide to beat up another male they'll stand up and box with their forelegs. The lower tusks are really dangerous here, since they can be used to stab each other in the neck. Those crazy upper canines, however, are not so useful in a fight. They're actually quite weak and brittle!

All in all, it seems those bizarre tusks are a bigger danger to their owner than anyone else!


The odd antics of the Babirusa don't stop there. They've also been seen indulging in ploughing behaviour in captivity. Give them some soft sand and they'll plough into it head-first, making all sorts of bestial noises, foaming at the mouth and tasting the sand.

Image: Amy the Nurse
Females don't bother with that sort of thing
That's disgusting. As you can probably imagine, it's a male thing, and it was seen most often when a male was placed in the enclosure of another male or when the enclosure was freshly cleaned. It's probably some kind of scent-marking, but it's also just one example of the kind of weird things guys do.

Image: Kaptain Kobold
An athletic physique, the likes of which the world has never known
Despite these nasty habits and a flabby, wrinkly, rather slovenly appearance, Babirusas are actually fast runners and strong swimmers. They just wobble a little more than usual.


And of course, there's another time when males and females wobble together, after which just 1 or 2 piglets are born.

Image: Tapir Girl
They're soft and lovely at first...

Image: su-lin
But not for long.

4 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

yikes! poke your own eye out!

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Yeh, it all looks FAR too precarious!

Erik J. Awesome said...

I was thinking of that exact episode as well too. Especially the part where they show future Lisa, with her mangled tooth sticking through her upper lip

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Yes, that's the one! So much cool stuff in that episode!

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