Hippos and Crocodiles: Friend or Foe? |Londolozi Blog
Beastly surprise: As the photographer trained his lens on the colourful bird as it drank at an African river, a crocodile and a hippo burst from the. A video has emerged of a heard of hippos bandying together to take down a crocodile threatening attack on its young. The group of hippos are. A Chinese tourist has died after being bitten by a hippo while taking pictures at a wildlife Hippos save wildebeest from battle with crocodile.
Also known as the Common Hippopotamus, it is one of two Hippo species that are found on the African continent with the other being the solitary and forest-dwelling Pygmy Hippopotamus which is only found in western Africa and is now Critically Endangered. Although the Common Hippopotamus remains abundant and widespread throughout its current range, numbers are reportedly declining due to both hunting and habitat loss.
Hippopotamus Anatomy and Appearance The Hippopotamus has an enormous grey barrel-shaped body that can measure up to five meters in length and weigh more than four tonnes, and which is held up by short and stocky legs. One of the Hippopotamus's most distinctive features is their enormous jaws which contain two long canine teeth tusks which can grow up to 50 cm long and are used for fighting.
Due to the fact that the Hippopotamus spends most of its life resting in the water, they have a number of excellent adaptations to aid their semi-aquatic lifestyle including four webbed toes on each foot that help with swimming and walking on slippery banks, and the eyes, ears and nostrils of the Hippopotamus are situated on the top of its head.
This means that when the Hippopotamus's body is immersed in the water, they are still able to see, hear and breath whilst keeping cool in the hot sun. Hippopotamus Distribution and Habitat Although historically the Hippopotamus would have once been found across Europe and Asiatoday they are confined to Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
The Hippopotamus is always found close to water and tends to prefer areas close to grasslandswhere they feed during the night. Hippos are most commonly found in the deep and slow-moving rivers and lakes in eastern and southern countries, with only a few smaller and more isolated populations still found in the west. The Hippopotamus is also a resident of the seasonal wetlands where they wade through the swampy waters by day and graze on the small islands at night. Although the Hippopotamus is still common throughout much of sub-Saharan Africatheir numbers have been declining with one reason being loss of their natural habitats mainly caused by land clearance for agriculture.
Hippos and Crocodiles: Friend or Foe?
Hippopotamus Behaviour and Lifestyle The Hippopotamus spends up to 18 hours a day in the water to keep cool but when darkness falls, they venture out onto land and follow well-trodden paths to their feeding grounds, before returning to the water in the morning. The Hippopotamus is one of the largest and most feared animals in Africa as both males and females are known to be incredibly aggressive at points.
The Hippopotamus tends to live in small herds containing between 10 and 20 individuals that are comprised of females with their young.
The herd is led by the dominant male who will fiercely guard his stretch of river bank from both intruders and rival males, threatening them by opening his enormous mouth to expose the half meter long tusks.
If this fails, the two will fight and deadly injuries often being caused. Although the dominant male will allow other males to enter his territory providing they are well-behaved, he holds the breeding rights with the females in the herd. Hippopotamus Reproduction and Life Cycles After a gestation period that lasts for around eight months, the female Hippopotamus gives birth to a single calf generally during the rainy season. Although like many other activities including mating the Hippopotamus often gives birth in the water, it is not actually that uncommon for their young to be born on land.
The female protects her calf fiercely and it rides on her back to keep it safe. Hippopotamus calves are fully weaned by the time they are 18 months old but tend to remain with their mother until they are fully grown, often not leaving her until they are 7 or 8 years old.
Although young males will become more independent and find their own patch of bank to patrol, females will join a herd of other females and young but despite this seemingly sociable behaviourthey do not seem to interact socially and will even graze on their own when they leave the water at night.
Hippopotamus Diet and Prey The Hippopotamus is a herbivorous animal meaning that despite its enormously long and sharp teeth, they are vegetarians. Seals and Bears Image courtesy of nutmeg66's Flickr stream. The cute and cuddly harp seal pup might look drastically different from its greatest predator, the polar bear, but biologically-speaking the two species are actually rather similar.
Pinnipeds the group containing seals, walruses and sea lions evolved from a creature called the puijila, which is believed to have branched off from the ancestors of modern day bears.
Image courtesy of Virginia DeBolt's Flickr stream. While it can be hard to see the similarities between bears and pinnipeds, a quick look at the clawed toes of a seal and those of a bear above can show you that there is definitely some common genealogy between the two. Elephants are distinct-looking creatures, but they have a surprisingly large and diverse family.
Crocodile instantly regrets attack on baby hippos after entire herd exacts revenge
So what critters are most closely related to these behemoths? Manatees and rock hyraxes, surprisingly enough. Image courtesy of flickkerphotos' Flickr stream.
They are large, gray animals, too; they just happen to live underwater. Turns out, though, that manatees, rock hyraxes and elephants all shared a common ancestor that died out over 50 million years ago. That creature evolved into prorastomus, a mostly-terrestrial ancestor of the manatee and dugong that sought out underwater plants, eventually becoming the pudgy sea cows we now know and love. Image courtesy of Tambako the Jaguar's Flickr stream.
When Hippo Meets Crocodile: River Monster Showdown
That same common ancestor also started living in rocks and crevices in Africa, leading to a smaller body size and feet that were well-adapted to the rocky terrain. These creatures eventually became rock hyraxes. So just how drastic were the evolutionary changes from that common ancestor? Well, to put things in perspective, the rock hyrax weighs about 10 pounds, the manatee is about pounds and the elephant is about 22, pounds. Dolphins, Whales and Hippos Image courtesy of krumbecker's Flickr stream.
Scientists originally believed hippos were most closely related to pigs since they have similar ridges on their molars, but DNA analysis shows that the semi-aquatic critters are more closely related to the fully-aquatic family of cetaceans —which contains dolphins, porpoises and whales. Image courtesy of Alexandra MacKenzie's Flickr stream.
About 60 million years ago, hippos and whales had a common ancestor that eventually split into two groups. One branch became hippos and the other became whales and dolphins.