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Hippos Go Airborne at Prime Speeds, Video Footage Reveals

Hippos are extra limber than chances are you’ll’ve beforehand thought. The fifth-heaviest land mammal is able to turning into airborne whereas trotting at excessive speeds, in response to a recent study out of the College of London’s Royal Veterinary Faculty.

Whereas analyzing footage of 169 totally different strides from 32 hippos, the researchers mentioned they by no means noticed a gallop. As a substitute, the exceedingly muscular mammals caught to a trot (or near-trot) — a sample by which their ft strike the bottom in diagonal pairs. Whereas operating, their trot featured a short aerial section; at peak speeds, the hippos reportedly spent about 15% of every stride completely airborne. This aerial section had not, to the researchers’ data, been beforehand reported.

Their predilection to trot is an “uncommon sample for big terrestrial mammals,” in response to the researchers; rhinoceroses and giraffes, for instance, make use of totally different footfall patterns at totally different speeds. (Nevertheless, it could not have at all times been uncommon; long-necked dinosaurs, for instance, could’ve employed a gait considerably just like hippos, per unrelated analysis.)

Hippos spend a lot of their days in the water, however round nightfall they “lumber onto land,” per National Geographic, to graze on roughly 80 pounds of grass in darkness. Their aquatic and, at instances, aggressive nature make the mammals difficult to check, mentioned John R. Hutchinson, an evolutionary biomechanics professor on the Royal Veterinary Faculty and the lead writer of the research.

“Hippos aren’t typically stored in captivity for simple entry and even then are usually exhausting to work with as a result of they spend not a lot time on land, are energetic at evening, are exhausting to inspire and very harmful if they’re motivated, and there’s little coaching of them in captivity,” Hutchinson instructed Gizmodo. Within the wild, “there are all types of issues accessing them (you mainly need to get fortunate and catch a uncommon shot of a quick hippo),” he added.

Hutchinson additionally acknowledged it is a “somewhat area of interest matter.”

“There wasn’t a solution to this query partly as a result of few scientists had questioned (overtly in papers, anyway),” he mentioned. “However as my analysis closely focuses on how heavy animals endure main constraints to their locomotor skills on land, I needed to sort out it eventually.”

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