The earliest fossil suids date from the Oligocene epoch of Asia, and their descendants reached Europe during the Miocene . Several fossil species are known, and show adaptations to a wide range of different diets, from strict herbivory to possible carrion-eating (in Toconodon).
They are small to medium animals, varying in size from 58 to 66cm in length, and 6-9 kg in weight in the case of the Pygmy Hog, to 130-210 cm and 130-275 kg in the Giant Forest Hog. They have large heads and short necks, with relatively small eyes and prominent ears. Their heads have a distinctive snout, ending in a disc-shaped nose. Suids typically have a bristly coat, and a short tail ending in a tassle. The males possess a corkscrew-shaped penis, which fits into a similarly shaped groove in the female's cervix.
Suids have a well developed sense of hearing, and are vocal animals, communicating with a series of grunts, squeals, and similar sounds. They also have an acute sense of smell. Many species are omnivorous, eating grass, leaves, roots, insects, worms, and even frogs or mice. Other species, such as the warthog, are more selective and purely herbivorous.
Their teeth reflect their diet, and suids retain the upper incisors, which are lost in most other Artiodactyls. The canine teeth are enlarged to form prominent tusks, used for rooting in moist earth or undergrowth, and in fighting. They have only a short diastema. The number of teeth varies between species, but the general dental formula is:
Litter size varies between one and twelve, depending on the species. The mother prepares a grass nest or similar den, which the young leave after about ten days. Suids are weaned at around three months, and become sexually mature at 18 months. In practice, however, male suids are unlikely to gain access to sows in the wild until they have reached their full physical size, at around four years of age. In all species, the male is significantly larger than the female, and possesses more prominent tusks.
The complete list of living species, and a partial list of fossil genera, follows:
Chapter 1 Domestication and early history.(SECTION 1 Origins of the Modern Pig and Evolution of Production Systems)
Jan 01, 2003; INTRODUCTION Pigs have been a part of most human cultures since even before they were first domesticated. Archeological records...