Cetaceans And Hippopotamus Are Distant Cousins

americas-whale-alliance-humpbackCetus is Latin for “large sea creature”.  From this word came Cetacea which refers to a large, diverse infraorder of water mammals that can’t survive on land.  Inside of this group you will find mammals such as dolphins and whales. Science, divides these water mammals further into groups but I’m not going to linger on that.  I just wanted to give you a small idea of how whales are classified.

It is said that their (whales, dolphins, etc) closest living relative is the hippopotamus… which would have seemed odd to me if I hadn’t recently saw a video of a hippopotamus swimming.

It was a video, probably taken with a smart phone but I thought it was shocking and watched it at least 8 times.  It was short but I guess the person that was filming it was on vacation because they were on, what looked to be a medium sized fishing boat.  The caption read, “Wait For It” and it starts off at normal speed. You could see something moving extremely fast towards the boat.  Your first thought of the figure was shark, dolphin, whale, maybe sea lion.  I ruled out sea lion quickly because this figure was much bigger than that and I ruled out shark and dolphin because usually you would see a fin sticking out of the water.

Once the figure got closer, it lunged and at that instant the video went into slow motion.  As the figure came out of the water all that you could see was this huge mouth connected to this huge head.  It was a hippo!  That was the last animal that I would have thought of swimming towards the boat because I didn’t realize that they moved that fast.  I don’t know if the hippo felt threatened and was attacking out of fear or just playing but I was amazed by it.

But I digress.  That video was the first thing that came to my mind when I found out that whales, dolphins, and hippopotamus were related.  It doesn’t seem like they would be but that video, along with a few other facts, makes me see how possible it is.

Anyway, the size ranges of Cetaceans go from 4.3 ft (1.3 m) and 110 lb (50 kg) which would be about the size range of the vacquita, Hector’s dolphin, La Plata dolphin, and the Maui’s dolphin. to 112 ft (34 m) and 210 short tons (190 t) which would be the size of our Earth’s biggest creature, the blue whale.  The vacquita, Maui’s dolphin, and Hector’s dolphin are all on the verge of extinction and wildlife groups like The World Wildlife Fund and The International Whaling Commission would like to see stricter laws set forth to protect these animals from going into full extinction.

You can find Cetaceans worldwide but the majority of the species prefer areas that have cold waters.  They have a layer of “blubber” under their skin that protects them from the cold temperatures of certain waters.  This explains why in areas like the arctic, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and other northern waters you find most of the whales.  Most of the time, in these areas, no matter how warm it is outside at the time, the waters of the oceans, lakes, and rivers are painfully cold.  But if I had a layer of “blubber” under my skin like these animals then I’m sure I’d be in heaven whenever I got into the water.

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