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February 20

javelina

Javelinas Are Not Rodents

When I lived in Alaska, it was the "hummingbirds migrate on the backs of Canada geese" myth and here in Arizona it is the "javelinas are rodents" myth.

The thing about javelinas that IS true is that they are not in the same family as domestic pigs or wild boars. They are, however, in the same order, Cetartiodactyla, and not in the order Rodentia. This makes javelinas (the other name is collared peccary) as closely related on paper to whales as they are to domestic swine, since whales (and goats and sheep and deer) are also in the order Cetartiodactyla. Up until a couple years ago, Cetartiodactyla was called Artiodactyla but the Cet was added when molecular evidence proved the relationship with whales and dophins.

Happily, some with Adam's task are providing Cetartiodactyla with sub-orders so that pigs, javelinas, and hippos will be in their own sub-order, camels and the like in theirs, and giraffes and cows, etc., in another.

Here is a brief rundown as I sent it to a misinformed friend:

Subject: Jappy Javelinas

Here's the classification for javelinas or peccarys:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetartiodactyla
Family: Tayassuidae
Genus Tayassu
Species: Tayassu tajacu

Here's the classification for the largest rodent, the capybara, which also is S. American in origin and probably what got the rodent rumor started in the first place:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Hystricognathi
Family: Hydrochaeridae
Genus Hydrochaeris
Species: Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris

All rodents are in the order Rodentia (this is what makes them rodents): http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/chordata/mammalia/rodentia.html

Javelinas are in the order Cetartiodactyla: http://www.ultimateungulate.com/artiodactyla.html

I'm not a scientist--if you are a scientist (or just smarter than I am about this topic) and would like to dispute how I explained this, PLEASE do write.

***

Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Tyrannio, Saint Zenobius and Companions, Saint Sadoth, Saint Eleutherius of Tournai, Saint Eucherius of Orleans, and Saint Wulfric.

Celebrating birthdays: Brenda Blethyn (1946, Ramsgate, England), Sidney Poitier (1927, Miami), Patty Hearst Shaw (1954, San Francisco), French Stewart (1964, Albuquerque), and Gloria Vanderbilt (1924, NYC).

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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008