The prehistoric predecessors of the Hippopotamuses may have been as big as an adult goat.
The unearthed fossil remains of anthrocotheres, believed to be the ancient ancestors of the hippopotamuses were discovered in a rock bed in Kenya. The new discovered hippos just weighed less than 100 pounds and appeared like a smaller versions of the massive mammals that thrives now in Africa.
The co-author Fabrice Lihoreau of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Montpellier in France quipped that “They are slender hippos, very thin hippos.”
And there is more as the new fangled study gives us an insight that the hippo ancestors, Epirigenys lokonensis, evolved in Africa first.
Genetic data would also reveal that hippos, porpoises and whales shared a common ancestor 53 million years ago, while the family of hippopotamidae surfaced out 15 million years ago. Another earliest known hippopotamus were the genus Kenyapotamus which appeared about 16 million years ago in Kenya. Lihoreau said that fossil records during this period is extremely rare.
Many scientists had assumed that the ancestors of hippos came from a family of extinct and semi-aquatic mammals called anthrocotheres, which first showed up about 40 million years ago. These primitive monsters once prowled all over the world.
To date the common hippopotamus which weighs up to 1,500 kg and mostly herbivorous are identifiable by their barrel-like torsos, huge mouths filledlarge canine tusks, almost hairless bodies, legs that are like columns and hefty size. The hippopotamus is highly territorial and aggressive as it is known to be one of the most dangerous animals in the planet.
Nonetheless, the hippos’ population is threatened by loss of habitat and poaching for their meat and highly coveted ivory canine teeth.