Hippopotamus Evolution

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Hippopotamus Ancestors

The Hippo is a creature that has been around for a very long time. There is evidence to suggest they walked on the Earth more than 55 million years ago. The closest relatives of the Hippo are whales and porpoises. There are fossils that have been located in Africa that are dated back about 16 million years ago. They have been analyzed on many levels to give us some insight about Hippo evolution.

However, it wasn’t until 1985 that the evidence came to light that the Hippo isn’t related to pigs. What used to drive this impression was the shape of the molars. However, now that we have the testing for DNA there is no evidence to suggest there is any relationship between pigs and the Hippo.

The start of Hippo life though does remain a mystery. There are some fascinating hypothesis out there. It is believed that they were once land only animals, living in the thick forest areas where the sunlight didn’t affect their fragile skin. They lived in warm climates which is why they have very little hair on their bodies.

Many theories about Hippo evolution though claim these animals took to the water after something on Earth occurred that cleared out the forest areas. Then they were too vulnerable on land and hand to move into the water. Perhaps a lack of food in the water at that time is why they continued to go to land at night to search for what they needed to survive.

It is believed that Hippos grew significantly in size during this period of time. They were one of the few animals that may have survived whatever catastrophe occurred on Earth. As a result of that they had their fill of food all the time. As they ate more and more they became much bigger.

Not all species of Hippos though were able to survive what was taking place on Earth. It is believed that at least 3 species of Hippos have become extinct – one of them only about 1,000 years ago. Many researchers though believe that there are many more extinct species but that we simply haven’t been able to find their remains yet.

The fact that there have been fossils though of Hippos in the New England area where no living Hippos have ever been documented is very interesting. Hopefully we will one day know why they weren’t able to survive there. The question though is about if they lived there and then changes occurred that created a difficult atmosphere for them.

The other idea is that they may have moved into that region in hopes of survival from somewhere else but they weren’t successful. It may have been too much of a challenge compared to what they were used to. Of course that doesn’t mean that some of them didn’t survive and then move into other areas where they were successful.

It is believed that climate changes had a great deal to do with where and how Hippos where able to survive. Since they don’t have much hair they do need warm environments. Yet they are also dependent on the water to keep them cool.

Hippo evolution is believed to have played a small part in their overall survival. For example their sheer size alone means that many other animals in the wild won’t bother them at all. The fact that they are able to live in such an environment in the hot dessert is interesting. They continue to excite people on various levels. Until we have more credible information about Hippo evolution though we can continue to explore the many possibilities.

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