Until 1909, naturalists grouped hippos with pigs, based on molar patterns. Several lines of evidence, first from blood proteins, then from molecular systematics and DNA and the fossil record, show that their closest living relatives are cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoises. The common ancestor of hippos and whales branched off from Ruminantia and the rest of the even-toed ungulates; the cetacean and hippo lineages split soon afterwards. Read more ...
Kenyan fossils show evolution of hippos Science Daily - February 24, 2015
A French-Kenyan research team has just described a new fossil ancestor of today's hippo family. This discovery bridges a gap in the fossil record separating these animals from their closest modern-day cousins, the cetaceans. It also shows that some 35 million years ago, the ancestors of hippos were among the first large mammals to colonize the African continent, long before those of any of the large carnivores, giraffes or bovines.
Million-Year-Old Fossils Show Hippos Going for a Swim Live Science - June 13, 2014
More than a million years ago, hippopotamuses paddled across a shallow pool in the region that's now northern Kenya, occasionally scraping their feet on the sandy bottom. Today, researchers have evidence of the hippos' fleeting swim in the form of fossilized footprints. The newly identified prints represent the first known tracks of ancient mammals taking a dip, joining previously discovered trace fossils left behind by swimming dinosaurs, turtles and crocodiles, the researchers said.
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