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Hippopotamus



The hippopotamus with scientific name Hippopotamus amphibius or hippo, from the ancient Greek for "river horse", is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in sub-Saharan Africa, and one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, the other is the Pygmy Hippopotamus. The hippopotamus is the second largest land animal after the elephant and the heaviest extant artiodactyl, despite being considerably shorter than the giraffe.

The hippopotamus is semi aquatic, inhabiting rivers and lakes where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of 5 to 30 females and young. During the day they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. They emerge at dusk to graze on grass. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land.

Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives are cetaceans such as whales, porpoises, from which they diverged about 55 million years ago. The common ancestor of whales and hippos split from other even-toed ungulates around 60 million years ago. The earliest known hippopotamus fossils, belonging to the genus Kenyapotamus in Africa, date to around 16 million years ago.

The hippopotamus is recognizable by its barrel-shaped torso, enormous mouth and teeth, nearly-hairless body, stubby legs and tremendous size. It is the third-largest land mammal by weight between 1½ and 3 tonnes, behind the white rhinoceros and both species of elephant. Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun a human. Hippos have been clocked at 30 km/h over short distances. The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often regarded as the most ferocious animal in Africa. There are an estimated 125,000 to 150,000 hippos throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia with 40,000 and Tanzania with 20,000–30,000 possess the largest populations. They are still threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth.