Sunday, May 16, 2010

Raffles Museum Treasures: Hairy babirusa

Hairy babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa)
Male from Buru
Donated to the Museum by G.P. Stubbs in 1913

Tetrapod Zoology: The many babirusa species
IUCN Red List

As far as I know, photos of this particular specimen are the only images of the hairy babirusa on the Internet.

Previously, it was thought that there were 3 extant subspecies of babirusa, all belonging to a single species, Babyrousa babyrussa. However, since 2001, it has been argued that these 3 taxa are sufficiently distinct from one another to be considered separate species. According to such classification schemes, the name Babyrousa babyrussa is now restricted to the populations found on the Sula Islands and Buru, with the other 2 babirusa species being the Togian babirusa (Babyrousa togeanensis) from the Togian Islands, and the Sulawesi babirusa (Babyroussa celebensis), known from the northern arm of mainland Sulawesi.

Most images of babirusa are of the Sulawesi babirusa, which is still commonly seen in publications, online resources and zoos under the label of Babyrousa babyrussa.

(Photo by cactusbeetroot)
Compared to the hairy babirusa, the Sulawesi babirusa is quite hairless.