Pigs might not fly, but hippos can

Hippos can technically fly Credit: Pixabay:ArtTower

Pigs might not fly, but hippos can

Groundbreaking research conducted at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, UK, revealed a fascinating hippo locomotion aspect.

It was discovered that hippos can lift all four feet off the ground simultaneously when running at full throttle.

Video footage recorded at the Flamingo Land resort in North Yorkshire shows that when they run at full throttle, all four feet lift from the ground up to 15 per cent of the time.  The footage was taken at the request of John Hutchinson, a professor of evolutionary biomechanics and lead researcher.

He explained, “I have struggled to get any work done on hippos before because they’re so hard to access.  They’re incredibly dangerous, they tend to be most active at night, and they spend a lot of their time in the water.”

The evolution of animal locomotion

These findings now place hippos somewhere between elephants and rhinos in relation to their athletic prowess. However, unlike hippos, elephants technically walk, even at high speeds, whereas rhinos walk, trot, and even break into a gallop.

Hutchinson said of the study, “Clicking through stacks of videos frame-by-frame is not for everyone.  It’s mind-numbing and it’s one of the things in my work that I hate most.  It’s really boring, agonising.”

However, his painstaking approach to investigating the behaviour of these elusive animals seems to have paid off.  Thanks to this information, researchers will be better able to piece together the evolution of locomotion in large animals, all the way back to the giant dinosaurs.

Excited to learn more, Hutchinson is keen to understand if baby hippos can gallop like pygmy hippos.  He said, “I’m wondering if baby hippos can do something that adult hippos can’t.  That would be pretty neat.”

It would appear that he may soon be clicking through another stack of video footage to find the answer.

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Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!

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