Ancient Hippo Ancestor Was Hardly Bigger Than a Sheep

The first hippos may have been about the size of overgrown sheep.

Fossils from an ancient ancestor to hippos, part of a family of creatures known as anthrocotheres, have been unearthed in a rock bed in Kenya. The new finds suggest the ancient water-babies weighed just a few hundred pounds and looked like shrunken versions of the portly mammals found in Africa today.

"They are slender hippos, very thin hippos," said study co-author Fabrice Lihoreau, a paleontologist at the University of Montpellier in France.

Image: Anthrocothere, believed to be a common ancestor to hippos
The anthrocothere, shown here, is believed to be a common ancestor to hippos. Dmitry Bogdanov / Wikimedia Commons