Baby hippo’s first aquatic outing

June 4, 2019 • 2:35 pm

From the Dallas Zoo via reader Michael, we have a video posted on May 31.  I seem to remember that baby hippos are born underwater and can swim before they walk, so if that’s true this is not the first time the baby was actually in water. It’s the first time in the public habitat. And it’s ineffably cute. I am dragging and dispirited today, so this is what you get. Tomorrow, if anyone’s in the mood for a science post, I have a fossil ammonite in amber to tell you about. Ammonites are marine creatures, while amber is fossilized tree resin. Figure out how that happened? You have about 19 hours to formulate an answer.

At least you can learn several biological facts:

1.) There are two species of hippo: the common hippo (this one), Hippopotamus amphibius, common in sub-Saharan Africa, and the pygmy hippo, Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis, which is in a different genus. Pygmy hippos have a much more limited distribution, and are found only in Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea.

2.) Hippos are the closest living relative of whales, with their common ancestor splitting from that of all modern whales about 53 million years ago.

Okay, here’s the short but endearing video. While adult hippos are interesting, baby hippos are ineffably cute (remember Fiona?) The YouTube notes:


18 thoughts on “Baby hippo’s first aquatic outing

  1. ooooh! I saw that PNAS paper on the ammonite. They found isopods and gastropods (some marine) in the amber too. Fascinating. Very much looking forward to your take on it.

  2. If the ammonite is preserved in amber, I’ll assume it is a small one, and not a giant one. Since they co-existed with dinosaurs, perhaps a pterosaur or primitive bird caught one, flew over a forest, and dropped it.

    If it is fossilized and in amber, then I would guess that it fossilized naturally in the sea bed, then the area was uplifted and eroded. A forest eventually developed in the area, and an exposed fossil was covered in sap.

    1. Ammo – nite – sounds like an explosive!

      Good explanation – should be possible to see weathering on the shell in that case.

      Do mangroves have sticky sap? It could have then dripped onto an empty shell…

      1. Amber comes from tree resin not tree sap – all trees produce sap, but resin is solely from the Pinaceae family of trees [pine, spruce, larch, firs, cedars & some others]. Resin is for plant defence I think.

        1. Resin is for plant defense I think.

          This is correct. It helps keep kids from climbing them. Only works on some kids.

  3. If we could float like that, would not have had to learn how to swim. And look at what they can do with the ears.

    1. Huh? Just look how the baby sinks when he first enters the water. I think hippos float a lot less than yoomans do. Ever try submerging?

      I believe kids float less than adults, in humans at least.


  4. I love hippos! I’m already a big follower of Fiona, the hippo born at the Cincinnati Zoo 2 years ago. We drove from Chicago to Ohio to see her this past Summer.

  5. The Moon was 10,000 km closer 100M years ago thus coastal tidal regions must have been more extensive [larger areas of estuaries everything else being equal]. Anyway – that doesn’t matter – there’s plenty of sea shells today on land washed up above the peak tide by storms & coming to rest among living trees near the coast must happen Alexandria Onocasion-Cortez. I expect one shell was near a tree trunk & was gradually engulfed in tree sap over weeks or months.

    1. Alexandria Onocasion-Cortez == Once in a while.
      I can buy that. I sometimes think of her as the Scottish version of the Casio watch brand.

      1. Not comparing to AOC, but Casio: everything they build, except some of the cameras which are rips of other brands, just isn’t ‘right’ – they understand functionality, but the stuff is plug ugly.

        According to Wiki their first product was a finger ring cigarette holder so you could smoke right down to the dog end [immediate post-WWII broken Japan] – a huge seller which got them the cash to move into mechano-electric calculators. Do they think they don’t deserve beauty?

        1. Eh? My Casio watch is functional *and* neat. It’s a digital, stainless steel, of about 3 cm square with just enough space to display the time, day and date in neat characters. It dates from about 1980, it just won’t die, and they still sell almost the same model.

          Admittedly, they do also make those idiotic clunky ‘sports’ watches that look like something a testosterone-fuelled Armalite-waving Humvee-driving mass shooter might affect, but that’s certainly not their only product.


          1. Hey! Watch who your calling a testosterone-fueled Armalite-waving Humvee-driving mass shooter. Those clunkers are not only cool looking, they support your wrist when you’re punching someone out. 😎

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