Tetrapod Zoology

A new angle for hippos

Here’s a pretty weird looking photo; it comes courtesy of Markus Bühler (of Bestiarium) and was taken at Berlin Zoo. I don’t think I’m spoiling the surprise by saying that it shows a Hippopotamus amphibius….

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… albeit a peculiar individual who seems to suffer from prolapsed tissue around the corners of her mouth. Initially I was going to use this view of a hippo to say something smart about the whippomorph hypothesis, but.. naaah. With a bit of photoshopping, I’m sure someone could make the picture look like it portrays some kind of horrendously ugly water monster. Maybe cropping the limbs off would do the job. Anyway, weird no?

PS – I presume that the flotation dynamics of giraffes (and not parachute geckos, alas) explains this…

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For previous Tet Zoo mentions (all there’s been so far: this will be rectified!) of hippos, see…

Comments

  1. #1 SteveC
    June 10, 2010

    I don’t know about the prolapsed tissue at the side of the mouth, but it sure looks like two fingers sticking out of her mouth! Maybe she is in this position to aid swallowing whole human beings?

  2. #2 Practically Uninformed
    June 10, 2010

    If I may ask, what is the “whippomorph” hypothesis?

  3. #3 ech
    June 10, 2010

    I think the whippomorph hypothesis is the idea that Hippopotamidae and Cetacea form a clade that excludes Ruminants. ie, Artiodactyla is not monophyletic. I _think_ this is generally considered to be uncontroversial?

  4. #4 Sordes
    June 10, 2010

    The mouth of this particular hippo looked really weird. It is not that well visible at this photo, but the tissue at the corner of the mouth was also very wrinkled and looked somewhat swollen, about the size of a man´s fist. I have no idea why. It is also really amazing to see such a huge animal in this pose only centimetres in front of you.

  5. #5 Nathan Myers
    June 10, 2010

    You would start by ‘shopping in eyes on the prolapsed bits.

    For sheer horror, though: isn’t that a duck in the background?

  6. #6 Jerzy
    June 10, 2010

    One can ask Berlin zoo if this hippo is unusual.

    Ducks (breeding) are sharing this pool (and most zoo pools) with hippos. I didn’t realize before that duck swims bent at 90 degrees back, because breast submerges much deeper than rump and neck.

  7. #7 kris
    June 11, 2010

    nice one!!! :) i’d love the sea-monster version.7

    but… did i just miss it or is there still no answer to “what’s wrong with this hippo”? can we clear up the one before we get another hippo with something wrong about it to figure out? ;p

  8. #8 Tim Morris
    June 11, 2010

    Oh come now, that is clearly the rare surviving desmostylian Bipedobehemoth phallucervix, the only known bipedal desmostylian.

  9. #9 Bill
    June 11, 2010

    I read somewhere that hippos only eat about half the mass of what might be expected for an animal their size in a night out grazing. Anyone know of this or if I just have a false memory?

  10. #10 Darren Naish
    June 11, 2010

    Kris (comment 7): you’re right, I never explained what was wrong with that hippo. A few things make the skull peculiar (most were indeed picked up in the comments left by various people). The posterodorsal part of the left premaxilla is not completely formed, meaning that the anteroventral edge of the left nasal is laterally exposed (weird), and the left canine never grew properly – it should be an enormous curved tooth that grows over and outside the tip of the lower canine, but instead it’s just a tiny little stick of a tooth. So, this particular hippo had some weird developmental things going on with its skull.

  11. #11 Mike from Ottawa
    June 11, 2010

    All you have to do to turn that pic into a pic of a monster is crop it _just_ below the water surface and call it a giant bling worm (maybe photoshop out the teeth too). That’s what it looked like to me, because that’s all I saw of it on-screen initially when I dropped in on TetZoo today.

  12. #12 grzebra
    June 11, 2010

    Maybe I’m crazy but I’m just seeing a perfectly lovely hippo whose ears??? are visible on either side of her mouth.

  13. #13 David Marjanović
    June 12, 2010

    Maybe I’m crazy but

    Completely wrong position for hippo ears (or eyes or whatever). Also, read comment 4 carefully.

  14. #14 Rosel
    June 13, 2010

    Does it make me a Zoo nerd that I recognised that as Berlin Zoo’s hippo enclosure?

  15. #15 Jim Thomerson
    June 13, 2010

    Back in the ’60’s, a New Orleans aquarist friend would go over to the Hippo pond in the Audbon Park Zoo and collect Daphnia with a long handled fine mesh dip net. Don’t see any Daphnia in the pictured hippo pool.

  16. #16 Jamie Stearns
    June 15, 2010

    Looks like a seriously messed-up version of “Jaws”.

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