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Babirusa

Babirusa, Babiroussa (Sus babirusa), the wild pig of Celebes and some of the adjacent islands. The native name, which has been adopted into English, signifies "Pig-deer," and refers to the abnormal tusks of the male, which, from their position, give the animal the appearance of being horned. The animal resembles a large hog in general appearance, but is more slightly built, has longer legs, and is nearly hairless. It does not root with its snout like other pigs, but feeds on fallen fruit and maize. The lower tusks are very long and sharp, and form terrible weapons; those of the upper jaw grow upwards, and curve backwards towards the top of the head. Dr. Bland Sutton, the pathologist to the Zoological Society, records the case of an animal that died in the gardens, and says that its upper canines were so long that they would have penetrated the skull if they had not been repeatedly cut. It was formerly supposed these extraordinary teeth served as hooks by which the animal could rest its head on a branch. Then it was suggested that they served to guard the eyes from thorns and spines while the babirusa was hunting for fallen fruits among the tangled thickets of spiny plants. This suggestion does not meet the case, for the female, who procures her food in the same way, does not possess such teeth. Dr. A. R. Wallace believes that they were once useful, and were then worn down as fast as they grew, but that changed conditions of life have rendered them unnecessary, and they now develop into a monstrous form, just as the incisors of rodents - which they resemble in springing from persistent pulps - will go on growing if the opposite teeth do not wear them away.

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