Large numbers of hippos were found by the river Nile in Ancient Egypt in the ‘Pre dynastic times’. Hippos would forage in the wetlands along the Nile banks. Egyptians feared these hippos because of their size, their large mouths and teeth and their aggressive nature.
However, because the hippos were denizens (frequently in the same place) of the fertile mud of the Nile, the Egyptians looked upon them as being symbols of rejuvenations and rebirth.
The birth-related aspect of the hippos powers also appears in the complicated shape of the goddess ‘Taweret’ (Tauret), who was supposed to protect women in childbirth.
Her pregnant-looking body has a hippos head and a crocodiles tail. She stands upright like a human and has a lion’s limbs for her arms and legs.
Male hippos, by contrast, were associated with the god ‘Seth’ and his destructive and negative characteristics. This was because the sight of an angry male hippo back then and today, is a formidable sight.
Because of the hippos tendency to graze on the newly grown wheat, overturning boats, hurting and even killing people, the hippo was often hunted and is extinct in the lower part of the Nile today.
Most recent research has found that hippos roamed English soil around an unknown period between 500,000 and 780,000 years ago. The hippos lived in the ‘Middle Pleistocene’ era where temperatures in England were exotic and equivalent to that of the African Savannah. Fossils found by geologists show that the hippos of that era were absolutely massive, almost half the size again of those living today. The hippos weighed around 6 tonnes back then compared to todays hippos that weigh around 4 tonnes.
These hippos apparently had very prominent eyes which served as periscopes when they were submerged into water. Todays hippos have very small eyes which sit high on their large muzzles.