‘Flying’ hippos? Researchers make shocking discovery about the muscular beasts

Pigs may not be able to fly, but hippos can apparently soar through the air.

Surprising new research from the Royal Veterinary College in England has shown that African animals raise all four legs in the air 15% of the time while running at full speed.

Video footage shows the massive hippos, which can weigh up to 1,800 kilograms, appearing to fly as they hunt rival species, reaching speeds of up to 30 kilometres per hour.

“I’ve struggled to do research on hippos before because they’re so difficult to access,” lead researcher John Hutchinson told The Guardian.

“They are incredibly dangerous, they are usually most active at night and spend a lot of time in the water.”

According to new research, hippos can technically fly.
Hippos can fly through the air, new research shows. Getty Images

The solution was to study the animals at a reserve in North Yorkshire, where they have the space to stretch their legs and run at full speed.

Hutchison described his research as “as simple as biomechanical research can be.”

The academic and his research team also carefully studied YouTube videos, frame by frame, to verify that all four feet had left the ground.

The ability of hippos to lift all four legs above the ground while running makes them unique compared to most mammals of their size. Anadolu via Getty Images

“It’s important for our understanding of what it means to be a large animal and move on land,” he said, adding that it shows how the movement of large wild animals has evolved since the age of the dinosaurs.

Now he is curious whether different types and ages of species have different capacities.

“I wonder if baby hippos can do something that adult hippos can’t,” Hutchinson said. “That would be really cool.”

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