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Tapir Fossils

The tapir is a semi-aquatic animal with a long, flexible nose which is very agile and mobile, a little bit like an elephant trunk, though much shorter. A very large lower tapir tooth closely resembles a small mastodon tooth and they are sometimes confused. Tapirs still live in South America and Malaysia. At one time they were very abundant in Florida.

Tapir fossils are among the most common fossils encountered in Florida. Their teeth are easily recognized and are scattered abundantly on the river bottoms and also in the Florida land sites.  The postcranial bones are less often seen and are sometimes confused with horses.  This is of the genus Tapirus.  Although you will see veroensis, polkensis, simpsoni and hayii listed in books, some believe that only hayii exists in Florida.  The following tapir jaws are  from North Florida. They  have some restoration and some composite teeth added.

It is rare to see complete jaws and even rarer to see mandible sets.