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The hippopotamus is a highly aggressive and unpredictable animal and has attacked humans. A rough evolutionary lineage can be traced from Eocene and Oligocene species: Anthracotherium and Elomeryx to the Miocene species Merycopotamus and Libycosaurus and the very latest anthracotheres in the Pliocene.
Hippopotamidae are sometimes known as hippopotamids. Hippopotamidae are classified along with other even-toed ungulates in the order Artiodactyla. Hippopotamids are therefore deeply nested within the family Anthracotheriidae.Ancestors of European hippos found their way to many islands of the Mediterranean Sea during the Pleistocene.The Pleistocene also saw a number of dwarf species evolve on several Mediterranean islands, including Crete (Hippopotamus creutzburgi), Cyprus (the Cyprus dwarf hippopotamus, Hippopotamus minor), Malta (Hippopotamus melitensis), and Sicily (Hippopotamus pentlandi).Hippopotamuses are among the largest living land mammals, being only smaller than elephants and some rhinoceroses.Mean adult weight is around 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively, Despite being semiaquatic and having webbed feet, an adult hippo is not a particularly good swimmer nor can it float.Common hippos are recognisable by their barrel-shaped torsos, wide-opening mouths revealing large canine tusks, nearly hairless bodies, columnar legs and large size; adults average 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively, making them the largest species of land mammal after the three species of elephant and the white and Indian rhinoceros.
Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it is capable of running 30 km/h (19 mph) over short distances.
The authors found low, but significant, genetic differentiation among H. Three species of hippopotamus, the European hippopotamus (Hippopotamus antiquus), Hippopotamus major and Hippopotamus gorgops, ranged throughout continental Europe and the British Isles.
All three species became extinct before the last glaciation.
The common hippopotamus inhabits rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps, where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of five to thirty females and young. The other branch became the anthracotheres, a large family of four-legged beasts, the earliest of which in the late Eocene would have resembled skinny hippopotamuses with comparatively small and narrow heads.
During the day, they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land. All branches of the anthracotheres, except that which evolved into Hippopotamidae, became extinct during the Pliocene without leaving any descendants.
In addition, the penis retracts into the body when not erect.