I promised to write more this week. There has been a lot of neat stuff I have come across, as well as things in my “save for blog” file, but nothing really screamed at me like a teenage girl at a boy band concert “OMG THIS IS THE AWESOMEST!”. So I am just kinda futzing around the internet, trying to find new music (binge-listening to Simplified right now) and cool pictures. I was on National Geographic because of the great articles and pictures. I am always looking for new desktop background pictures for my computer. I like to have it on slide show to just flip through all the great stuff I have downloaded. I found a great picture of a hippo. I admit, I don’t like mammals much. The are eating, pooping, smelly machines and I just don’t go for the fuzzy warmblooded macrofauna thing. Micro is my thing.
Except hippos. I love hippos like Agnes loves unicorns.
I know some people would disagree with me about the absolute superiority of hippos (too bad, they are wrong). Did you know that their closest living relatives are whales (Boisserie et al 2005)? They are nocturnal and spend their days in water just floating and chillin’. They inhabit the same waterways as crocodiles and hippos are dominant ((Kofron 1990). Amazing. And as much as they look like cute grey mermaids of the waterways, they are fantastically territorial and males will violently spar with other males for territory and females. One site quoted that they kill more humans yearly than any other African animal. Somehow I don’t think they are counting mosquitoes in that statistic.
There are a number of insects associated with hippos. The oxpecker (AKA tickbird) are birds that feed exclusively on the bodies of large mammals. They eat the ticks, and insects that are associated with the mammals. This was thought to be a mutualistic relationship but further research shows it might be more parasitic. The secondary relationship with insects is…. well…. shitty.
Hippos eat a lot of vegetation (50 kilograms each night!) and what goes in, must come out. In fact, they use their tails to spread poop like shit hitting a fan. When on land, that profusion of poop presents dung beetles, flies, and other coprophagus insects with food and habitat. Not to mention the predatory insects that flock in for a feast. In the water, not only does that fertilizing feces furnish the fish, but a number of aquatic insects including dragonflies.
So hippos are saving the world. Hippos eat, then poop, dragonflies eat the poo, become big and strong, eat lots of mosquitoes, thereby preventing the spread of malaria and saving millions. See? Save the hippos and you save the insects. I can always find a link to insects! Spread the entomological awesomeness!