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hippopotamus,herbivorous, river-living mammal of tropical Africa. The large hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius, has a short-legged, broad body with a tough gray or brown hide. The male stands about 5 ft (160 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs about 5 tons (4,500 kg); the female is slightly smaller. The mouth is wide, and the incisors and lower canines are large ivory tusks that grow throughout life. The eyes are near the top of the head, so the animal can see when nearly submerged. Hippopotamuses usually live in herds of about 15 animals. Much of their time is spent standing or swimming underwater, where they feed on aquatic plants; they must rise to breathe every 5 minutes or so. At night groups of animals feed on the shore. The hippopotamus is hunted for meat, and Africans have used the hide for shields and whips. Once widespread in Africa, the animal is now rare except in unsettled areas and reserves. The pygmy hippopotamus, Choeropsis liberiensis, is found in W Africa. It is about 30 in. (75 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs about 400 lb (180 kg). It tends to be solitary and spends much of its time on the shore, sleeping by day in thickets. Recent DNA studies indicate that whales are most closely related to hippopotamuses. Hippopotamuses are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Hippopotamidae.
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The common name for two species of artiodactyl ungulates composing the family Hippopotamidae.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. a very large massive gregarious artiodactyl mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, living in or around the rivers of tropical Africa: family Hippopotamidae. It has short legs and a thick skin sparsely covered with hair
2. pigmy hippopotamus a related but smaller animal, Choeropsis liberiensis
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005