Overview

Brief Summary

Taxonomy

Morphology
  • Small size: the mean estimated body mass is 482kg approximately a third the size of the larger living Hippopotamus amphibius.
  • Robust relatively short broad skull: if the crania of the two Malagasy dwarf hippos are compared Hippopotamus lemerlei in contrast has a long narrow skull.
  • Superorbital margin thin: Hippopotamus lemerlei in contrast has a thick or swollen superorbital margin.
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Introduction

Hippopotamus madagascariensis is an extinct species of dwarf hippopotamus from the African island of Madagascar. Hippopotamus madagascariensis one of three species of hippopotamus that have been discovered on the island from semi-fossilised remains that all date within the last 10,000 years from the Holocene age.Dwarf hippopotamuses were recorded as living on Madagascar by early European explorers in the sixteen hundreds. No hippopotamuses are living on Madagascar today.
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Distribution

Range Description

Hippopotamus lemerlei is mostly known from southern localities of coastal to lowland Madagascar (see a list of locality in Stuenes 1989). Last appearance datum of Madagascan dwarf hippopotamids remains uncertain. Most recent dates were provided through 14C dating and indicate ca. 1000 AD (Dewar 1984; Burney et al. 2004). However, MacPhee and Flemming (1999) proposed it as recent on the basis of local oral tradition (Flacourt 1661; and see Burney and Ramilisonina 1999) and possible younger age of some localities. However, this may only reflect sporadic occurrence of Hippopotamus amphibius.
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Distribution and ecology

Three species of recently extinct Hippopotamus have been described from Madagascar. The precise timing and number of immigration events that led to the colonisation and diversity of hippopotamus species on Madagascar is not known. However, the founder ancestor or ancestors were derived from the genus Hippopotamus.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Stuenes (1989) indicated that Hippopotamus lemerlei was probably well adapted to the amphibious way of life observed in the extant Hippopotamus amphibius. She based her conclusion notably on the relatively prominent orbits and developed muzzle of this species. In terms of diet, cranio-mandibular morphology may also indicate similarity with Hip. amphibius (Stuenes 1989), i.e. a diet mainly based on fresh grass. Overall, Hippopotamus lemerlei seems to have been a dweller of freshwater rivers crossing the lowlands of Madagascar.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

The large hippopotamus common in Africa today Hippopotamus amphibius is believed to be the probable ancestor of the Malagasy dwarf hippos.Hippopotamus amphibius is likely to have got to the island of Madagascar by swimming across the 430 km Mozambique channel that separated Madagascar from the African mainland. This would have been a rare event but it may have happened several times over the last million years. Large mammals that become isolated on islands commonly evolve to be much smaller in body size relative to their mainland ancestors.Both species of dwarf hippopotamus from Madagascar possess morphological characteristics
  • upper canine teeth with a very shallow posterior groove
  • lower canine teeth with strong and convergent ridges
that are only shared with species attributed to the genus Hippopotamus.In the past hippopotamine taxa were more diverse and attributed to four other genera The tetraprotodont (4 incisor teeth) genus Hippopotamus, with derived anterior dentition includes Hippopotamus species can be distinguished relatively easily from other hippopotamines and the monophyly of this taxon is well supported.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EX
Extinct

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Boisserie, J.-R.

Reviewer/s
Lewison, R., Oliver, W. ( Pig, Peccary & Hippo Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Madagascan hippopotami may have survived until recent times (MacPhee and Flemming 1999), notably on the basis of local oral tradition, but is now clearly extinct.

History
  • 2002
    Extinct
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Population

Population
This species is now extinct.
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Threats

Major Threats
Island dwarf hippopotamids were probably easy preys for human hunters. This may have lead to their quick extinction in the Mediterranean (Simmons 1988). The same impact from human hunters may have been effective in at least accelerating extinction of Madagascan hippopotamids. MacPhee and Burney (1991) indicate evidence for hippopotamid butchery in south-western Madagascar as early as the 1st century AD. Co-occurrence of humans and hippopotamids on Madagascar, therefore, lasted for at minimum of 1,000 years. How much humans have contributed to this extinction is yet to be determined.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is now extinct.
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