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Sea ipopo (Behemohyrax littoralis)

By AlexSone
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Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Ndipinotheriums (Ndipinotheriidae)
Habitat: Africa, Zinj Land (ocean coast), coast of Tanganyica passage.
In Holocene sea habitats were populated by mammals of three orders: cetaceans, Carnivores (pinnipeds represent not uniform group, but descendants of several branches of land predators) and sirens. First two groups were submitted by carnivorous and planktophagous forms and sirens were sea herbivores. In Cenozoic it also had exist the order of sea ungulates Desmostylia, but it had died out long before the people occurrence. Hunting and reduction of places of inhabiting, caused by human activity, and also climatic changes and “plankton accident” at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene had resulted in complete disappearance of the majority of representatives of these orders. Only separate relic species of “old” orders had remained. But in Neocene mammals had made the second attempt to develop sea habitats – various groups of mammals in different areas of Earth passed to life in sea independently from each other. So, in Europe the flattooth, the species of semi-aquatic boars had appeared. Sirens led the origin from African mammals close to proboscids, and in Neocene the similar situation had repeated again in Africa. Descendants of damans, also related to proboscids, are one of succeeding Neocenic mammals. And among them animals leading semi-aquatic habit of life had appeared.
At coast of Indian Ocean one of representatives of water herbivorous mammals lives. This large animal is the descendant of damans by anatomy, but by ecology it represents the analogue of fossil mammal Desmostylus. It browses in mangrove thickets and at sea shallows, eating leaves of mangrove trees, seaweed and sea grasses. Systematical position of this animal is between flathorns and ndipinotheriums, but by features of anatomy this mammal is closer to the last ones. By size this four-footed animal is larger than rhinoceros, and is externally a little similar to hippopotamus. Because of it there is its name – sea ipopo (“ipopo” is the form of word “hippopotamus” distorted in African languages).
Sea ipopos meet in areas of warm climate, and their distribution in many respects coincides with area of mangrove woods growth. The body of ipopo is covered with short wool, and under skin the layer of fat improving buoyancy is advanced. Tail is absolutely not present at this animal. The wool on body is light grey – it makes the swimming ipopo less appreciable on the background of sea water. On forehead and nose bridge the black wool grows. At swimming animal they are above water, and do not give out this animal to underwater predators. The amount of black wool depends on hormonal level of animal, and it is possible to determine approximately the status of each individual in group by size of black spot - at dominants black “cap” is largest.
Legs of ipopo are rather long (near to it the flathorn looks stumpy) but this animal can not rise on hinder legs (like ndipinotheriums), and moves exclusively on four extremities. Forward legs are little bit longer than back ones, and back is sloping. Feet are wide, adapted to walk on fenny dirt and to row at swimming. Hoofs on toes are flattened, similar to elephant’s ones; under foot the fat pillow softening steps and increasing the area of support develops. Due to such structure of legs ipopos easily browse in mangrove thickets where any predator can not reach. Ipopo swims very well – it lives at all small islands near coasts of Africa and Zinj Land, and separate animals even regularly reach Madagascar though a stable population of ipopos had not appeared on this island.
Head of animal is large, rounded, with short jaws. Eyes are located in forward part of skull. Neck at ipopo is mobile – animal easily feed with branches of mangrove trees. Ears are rounded, mobile and short. The upper lip of ipopo is adapted for browsing of parts of plants: it is flexible and represents small proboscis, as at rhinoceros. The end of lip is slightly forked, permitting this animal to break even thin stalks dexterously. Simultaneously teeth of animal enable it to eat food of other kind – containing the big amount of mineral substances. Incisors in bottom jaw of ipopo are wide, scraping by type. They have deep roots and constantly accrue. Sea ipopo frequently leaves mangrove woods and goes to shallows, where eats seaweed, sea grasses and sedentary animals (in this habit it is the convergention with the European flattooth). Due to universality these animals can live where mangrove trees do not grow – at the rocky shallows overgrown with seaweed.
On back of ipopo there is the specific gland – it is the heritage remained from damans. With its help animals submit each other chemical signals, and dominants mark territory of herd. In mangrove woods they rub backs against low thick branches of trees, and among rocks they prefer to mark stones forming the similarity of eaves under which it is possible to stand.
Sea ipopos wander in herds on coasts, preferring the territories overgrown with mangrove trees. On rocky sites they also live, but each group has extensive territory – some times larger, than in mangrove wood. In herd of ipopos strict matriarchy dominates. Males of this species live one by one or in small groups in boundary territories of female herds. At bare coasts males live one by one and follow herds of females.
Pairing at ipopos occurs at any time of year. Pregnancy lasts about 15 months. In litter there is always one cub. But it is very well advanced, and rises on legs in first some minutes after birth. It is born on the coast; during the cub birth the female is surrounded by neighbours protecting her from possible enemies – at this time they rush even to sea birds. When the cub rises on legs, the female licks it, and some time does not let neighbours to it. After between the female and cub connection was established, other neighbours sniff newborn cub. They as though “accept” it so to the clan, and if necessary protect it in common. Therefore the survival rate of posterity at ipopo is high. But the cub depends on mother for a long time – it leaves her only at the third year of life and then she begins able to bear posterity again. For all life at the ipopo female it may be 4 – 5 cubs. The young animal becomes able to breed at the age of 6 – 7 years.
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Comments15
anonymous's avatar
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Ursumeles's avatar
awesome, but not so cool as the reed ipopo (Behemohyrax calamophilus)=P (Razz) 
AlexSone's avatar
Скульптрис - только модели животных, а остальное - блендер.
Amplion's avatar
Просто офигенски!
Алексей, я мог что-то упустить - это уже ведь давно не скульптрис, верно?
AlexSone's avatar
Скульптрис - только модели животных, а остальное - блендер.
AlexSone's avatar
The tusks of males could be elongated a little but they's main function is the cropping the mangrove branches and shells adhering to the stones.
Bhurloka12's avatar
I assume the tusks from the ipopo's hyrax ancestors would be used for nipping off seaweed or the muscular lip does the same. Do you think that these tusks can be used for sexual display?
AlexSone's avatar
The tusks of males could be elongated a little but they's main function is the cropping the mangrove branches and shells adhering to the stones.
Pristichampsus's avatar
bhut's avatar
Very realistic!
PeteriDish's avatar
awesome! they remind me of desmostylians a bit with the general shape of the body :D
AlexSone's avatar
I have partically used their body as a reference.
PeteriDish's avatar
electreel's avatar
Very good job! It looks realistic :)
anonymous's avatar
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