Ed snorted and side-stepped as the peccaries raced ahead of them, squealing a protest at being interrupted.
A cursory inspection of the bird, which is not unfrequently brought alive to Europe, its size, and its enormous bill and talons, at once suggest the vast powers of destruction imputed to it, and are enough to account for the stories told of its ravages on mammals - sloths, fawns, peccaries and spidermonkeys.
The Suidae include the Old World pigs (Suinae) and the American peccaries (Dicotylinae), and are characterized by the snout terminating in a fleshy disk-like expansion, in the midst of which are perforated the nostrils; while the toes are enclosed in sharp hoofs, of which the lateral ones do not touch the ground.
Peccaries,which range from New Mexico and Texas to Patagonia, are represented by two main types, of which the first is the collared peccary, Dicotyles (or Tagassu) tajacu, which has an extensive range in South America.
Peccaries are omnivorous, living on roots, fallen fruits, worms and carrion, and often inflict great devastation upon crops.
Remains of extinct peccaries referable to the modern genus occur in the caverns and superficial deposits of South America, but not in the earlier formations.
Of the extinct North American peccaries, the typical Dicotyles occur in the Pliocene while the Miocene Bothriolabis, which has tusks of the peccary type, approximates in the structure of its cheek-teeth to the European Miocene genus among the Suinae.
From this it may be inferred that the ancestral peccaries entered America in the Upper Oligocene.
The pigs (Suidae) and the hippopotamuses (Hippopotamidae) are essentially Old World groups, the former of which has alone succeeded in reaching America, where it is represented by the collateral branch of the peccaries (Dicotylinae).