This nOde last updated December 3rd, 2001 and is permanently morphing...
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plural hippopotamuses or hippopotami (-mì´)
1. A large, chiefly aquatic African herbivorous mammal (Hippopotamus amphibius) having thick, dark, almost hairless skin, short legs with four toes, and a broad, wide-mouthed muzzle. Also called river horse.
2. The pygmy hippopotamus.
[Latin, from Greek hippopotamos : hippos, horse + potamos, river.]
MAMMAL (Hippopotamus amphibius) of tropical Africa, related to the pig
(SWINE). The male stands about 5 ft (160 cm) at the shoulder and weighs
about 5 tons (4,500 kg). The broad, short-legged body has a thick brown
or gray hide, and the eyes are near the top of the head, so the animal
can see when submerged. Hippopotamuses live in small herds, feeding on
aquatic plants. Hunted for meat and hides, they are endangered.
Hippos are are hoofed vegetarians, feeding on grass, fallen fruit, and occasionally on cultivated crops such as sugar cane or corn during the night.
The tusk-like incisors and canines grow continuously. They are ivory, valued even more highly than an elephant's because they do not turn yellow with age. George Washington's false teeth were not made of wood, as is commonly believed, but were carved from the tusks of a hippopotamus.
Recent DNA evidence suggests that the hippopotamus is more closely related to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) than it is to any other artiodactyl (even-toed hoofed mammal).
One young is born at a time,
after a gestation of around 230 days. Births usually occur in months of
heavy rainfall, but can occur year-round. Young hippos will also bask on
their mother's back. A group of hippos is called a "bloat."