by Greg Mayer
I promised baby tapirs, so here are baby tapirs! (From Zooborns.)
Adult Malay tapirs, as you’ll recall, are particolored:
The three other species of tapir, all from the Americas, also have spotted/striped young. Here’s a lowland tapir, found throughout much of cis-Andean tropical South America; the others are very similar in appearance.
We can thus see that all baby tapirs look much alike, and quite different from adults. Adults are either self-colored (the American species) or particolored (the Malay tapir). (It’s interesting that both young and adults have white edges to their ears.) The question is, is this coloration of the juveniles an adaptation? Or is it an ancestral feature of no current utility, which makes a brief appearance in the young, but is then lost (like the coat of hair that human babies have in utero)?