Kingdom of papyrus

 

Tour to Neocene

 

3. Kingdom of papyrus

 

 

Great African lakes: Tanganyica, Malawi (Nyassa), Victoria, Rudolph are the chain of lakes stretched in middle of the African continent from the north on the south. These lakes designate themselves a large rift of a continental crust. In the future forces, driving underground processes, will break off the African continent from the south to the north along this line, having transformed it to a narrow gulf of Indian Ocean. Thus edges of a break will rise because of pressure of a magma under continent, changing an inclination of continent and current of its rivers.
The Nile, the large African river, will change the river-bed and will enter the most ancient channel. Few thousands of years ago Nile flew on area known in XX century as Sahara desert. But for memories of the ancient people in this area the river flew and huge herds of herbivores wandered. And similarity of ichthyofauna of Nile and Niger tells that Niger was tributary in the bottom current of ancient Nile. Later the Sahara channel of Nile has shoaled, and the river has punched strict way to the north - to Mediterranean sea. In a Neocene all has returned to primal station. Nile has turned to the west, and the damp climate created by winds from the Tanganyica gulf, has allowed this river to overcome territory of Sahara, having made it savanna with additions of lakes, channels and bogs, plenty of life. In a dry season some ponds, channels and marshes dry up, but in the basic channel of Nile always there is a water.
River valley is a real empire of a gigantic reed, a reed mace and the papyrus. In thickets of these grasses for which 3 meters in height is the average size, set of animals lives. A fang chevrotain is one of this species, for which reeds are the sweet home. It is the relict of ancient times poorly changed in comparison with water chevrotains of Africa of XX century. And the habit of life which this creature leads, has a little changed.
The family group of chevrotains leaves thickets of a reed on a coast. It is headed by the male with a long head. From his mouth two well advanced canines jut out. Behind him there are three females and pair of small spotty calves. When they will grow up, spots will turn to vertical strips - colouring of adult chevrotains. Animals are very cautious - females constantly look around and shake ears. For some seconds they become transfixed and listen, and then accurately approach to water. On a coast there is very fenny dirty, but chevrotains easily go across it by means of long moving aside hoofs. Animals enter into water and swim to the small island inwashed by the river near a coast. There it is possible to regale themselves with juicy leaves of water lilies. Chevrotains tear off leaves with pleasure and chew it together with the snails having stuck the bottom part of leaves. Immersing a head under water, the male hooks and pulls out canines a bunch of water plants and eats it.
Plants grow in the river very plentifully because somebody fertilizes them. The surface of water from the side of the river becomes covered by bladders, and then as if blows up, compelling chevrotains to bunch on a small island. But there is nothing for them to be afraid of: from water the huge head of a herbivorous boaropotamus was put out. This giant spends hot days in the river, taking cover from heat. At night it leaves on a coast to feed. Manure of the boaropotamus plentifully fertilizes water, promoting growth of water plants in channels.
Water in shallow gulfs and channels is strongly shined by the sun. Plentiful boaropotamus’s "fertilizer" promotes mass reproduction of the phytoplancton giving a green shade to water. Schools of small fishes, and also flocks of ducks are feeding by phytoplancton. The flamingo duck is one of such species. It is specialized to feeding by microscopic plancton and ground filamentous algae. The beak of this tiny bird has turned to the perfect filter device with a dense fringe of horn bristles at the palate and tongue.
Hatches of flamingo ducks can be met practically in all shallow reservoirs of Neocaenic Nile basin. 5 - 6 tiny ducklings are floating in a line behind the male and the female. But at a feeding birds swim another order: parents and their posterity are floating, having stretched in a rank. Parents are on edges, and ducklings swim in middle. Swimming this order birds do not prevent each other to eat, gathering phytoplancton and a layer of very small Wolffia duckweed from a surface of water. But they should be more cautious - under leaves of water lilies the death is hidden.
From a surface of water it is impossible to see this hunter - it is hidden under leaves of plants, as under a umbrella. But at a sight from below the sun treacherously shines a silhouette of a short fish with very long wattles stretched as a web. It also has determined a name of a fish: the spider catfish. Due to wattlers this fish reads shivering surface of water, as if the book. The fish feels faltering jumps of water scater bugs, a fine shiver of the butterfly fallen in water, single burst of the fruit dropped in water. But a catfish interests to the frequent palpation of small paws speaking about presence of small and tasty catch - ducklings or rodents.
The hatch of ducks is swimming, having stretched in a rank. Careless birds swim up close to thickets of water lilies. The sudden whirlpool appears and one duckling disappears in a mouth of a fish, and survived nestlings and their parents hasten to a coast. In thickets of plants water is quieter, but there are also predators. The survival of flamingo ducks balances on a thin side between plentiful, but dangerous coast and rather safe open water poor by food.
Ducks can feel like in comparative safety in a channel of the river, but you will not envy to fishes. The fast and ruthless predators are found in the river. Schools of these one meter long creatures literally terrorize the river, devouring any creatures less half meter in length. But it is something these any strange in creatures, and at the same time it is very familiar feature. They have big head, a short thick body, a fin borders a back and all tail, but they have no operculums and their skin has no scales. Besides at the largest individuals... legs with fingers appear! These creatures are not fishes, but huge neotenic tadpoles are. They can breed, having no metamorphosis to adult frog. Fingers allow them to make the way in thickets of plants, and at a spawning the male keeps the female by paws.
But also tadpoles aren’t the most terrible predators of a river channel. The school of huge tadpoles, having stretched by a concave crescent, patrols the river near to a coast. Hardly they guess, that somebody has observing of them. And the yellow eye of a predator watches closely from driftwood the approach of these creatures. When the school of tadpoles swims above driftwood, the flat head on a long neck upwards throws up, and ruthless jaws tear apart a giant tadpole in two in a share of second. The school of tadpoles scatters and disappears in vegetation, and from driftwood the wide creature rises, holding in a huge mouth the rests of the tadpole. Alternately working by webby paws, the giant rises to a surface of water. Having inhaled air with characteristic noise, a giant predator slowly swallows the tormented tadpole entirely. It is the main predator of Neocaenic Nile - the crocoturtle. Having lazy examined vicinities, the animal quickly swims to a coast. The heat is necessary for digestion, and the turtle hastens to get warm. Its shell is reduced, and the body is covered with poorly cornificate skin. Only the ring plica of a skin above paws and on each side of the body hints that once at ancestors of these species the carapace was.
The monster heads for a small island where chevrotains have a rest. They sleep, that seldom it is possible to afford in thickets where the enemy can wander a beside. But their dream is sensitive: having caught a suspicious splash, the male utters shout of alarm, and animals run off to other coast of a small island. It is a tactical move: the turtle is sluggish on land, but in water it is swimming faster a chevrotain. Swimming animals would represent themselves easy catch for crocoturtle. The three-meter long giant gets out on a coast and spreads paws wide in sides, not paying attention to chevrotains. On land the crocoturtle does not snatch catch, and simply will not catch up swift-footed chevrotains. Now it is more important to it to get warm good, another way food will decay in a stomach. When the giant has calmed down under the hot sun, chevrotains hastily leave a small island and are forwarded on a coast of the river.
On a sandy spit, far from a giant reptile chevrotains make anything, for what the turtle would kill all of them, if it be cleverer. Chevrotains rake sand by hoofs in search of turtle eggs. These hoofed mammals are omnivorous, the protein food is necessary for them. Chevrotains willingly eat insects, snails, tadpoles and a carrion. And now they have to found a nest of titanic turtle and devour its eggs. Canines help chevrotains to dig out and crush an egg. A few nests will escape after such attacks. But eggs, that will be left, will be enough to have new generations of crocoturtles induced horror on river inhabitants.
There are many gourmands to gratuitous dainties, and the single shevrotain approaches to a nest hoping to have a bite rare dainties. Be it the female, it simply would join family. But it is the male, and to the leader of small herd it is not all the same. And he attacks a stranger fully armed: the mouth is widely opened, the head is pulled up upwards so, that powerful canines are visible. The stranger is not in debt: he shows the canines and snorts, as the horse. The family male prances and beats a stranger by hoofs, aiming him at shoulders. The applicant recedes: he understands the numerical minority and now he departs. Females have calves, and they already snort, having spred ears wide. If it is necessary, they will fight too. The single lowers ears and escapes, having lowered a head.
In a marshy gulf near to chevrotains fight ripe becomes too. The male of the thick trapmouth frog protects clutch. In the morning he was spawned here with two females, and now two clots of transparent eggs are on his care. And pair of spider catfishes already glances at these eggs longingly. They swim near to the frog laying, but it is protected by the large frog very vigilantly. The male stops any approach of fishes, rushing on them and striking impacts by a head. Emerging, he blows out a throat bubble, uttering menacing sounds, well audible even under water.
In the evening, under a cover of darkness spider catfishes approach to a laying of trapmouth frogs again. The male sees worse at night, and catfishes have chance to make anything they could not make in the afternoon. Pair of fishes gathering speed runs into frog eggs, swallows a fair portion of it, and immediately instead of it by a portion of the own eggs, fertilizing it the same moment. And all this had been made for few seconds. The half asleep frog male will drive off fishes, but for night they repeat attack still twice.
In the morning about third of the eggs protected by the trapmouth frog, is substituted to catfish’s one. And now the male vigilantly protects another's children. Five days later fries of a catfish are hatched and later they start to eat eggs of the trapmouth frog. After their feeding a little amount of an amphibian eggs will be escaped. And fries leave in a river channel where many of them become catch of huge tadpoles.
And the trapmouth frog, having left a clutch, will begin to hunt small vertebrate animals. Having dug in damp sand on a coast, it traps catch. When a hatch of flamingo ducks passes near, sand as if blows up: the frog snatches the drake and instantly breaks his bones with strong jaws. When spasmes of a bird have stopped, the successful hunter started to swallow catch, helping forepaws to itself. After some minutes a bird is swallowed entirely, and the frog leaves in a warm river gulf to luxuriate in heaten water.
Days of pleasure for inhabitants of the river proceed not eternally. There a drought season comes. It is short, but at this time the sun evaporates a significant amount of water and some reservoirs dry up. Water inhabitants should rescue themselves. Flamingo ducks simply depart to deep ponds and lakes. The trapmouth frog makes long night transitions, sitting out in the afternoon in pools with water. It searches for streams and ponds which will not dry up - the body of the frog loses a moisture, and it is necessary to fill up its reserve. But if it will not find suitable reservoir, the organism makes active «the second line of defense» - the skin becomes covered by the wax cover holding a moisture. This coating allows the frog to live on land about one week due to internal stocks of water. But this adaptation has another side: the coating prevents skin breath, braking thus physiological processes in an organism. This way of a survival is an extreme measure, it is used by an animal only in the most critical situation.
For the tadpoles who have stayed in ponds, the critical situation comes earlier: when the reservoir starts to dry up. Tadpoles in length from 20 cm up to meter are compelled to crawl in a muddy brown slush among rotten plants and dead fishes. They can survive any time, breathing oxygen of air, but it is not the best way out. Large individuals, using a situation, eat smaller neighbours, weakening a competition: only the most healthy and hardy will survive. Their hormonal system under influence on high temperatures and lack of oxygen starts to be reconstructed and animals make up for week or two the feature what they have practically refused. They… metamorphose to trapmouth frogs. Paws grow, tails resolve at them, and young frogs leave the shoaled pond in searches of the water. But not everyone can be rescued this way: old tadpoles, living and bred many years, being a larva, can not reconstruct a metabolic process and perish in a stinking dirt.
Chevrotains depend on water not so strongly, therefore even the trouble of tadpoles brings some benefit to them. Pair of chevrotains surveys a coast of a drying up pond, hoping to go down to water. Soon they do it and enter knee-deep into a dirty slush, former once clear water. The chevrotain peers some seconds at water, having stiffened motionlessly. Then by a sharp throw it snatches out of water the large tadpole and casts it ashore. After some neat impacts by a hoof the tadpole is dead. The chevrotain presses it by leg and starts to eat, tearing off meat pieces with the help of canines.
The crocoturtle does not leave the basic channel of the river, therefore the drought does not threaten it. In a dry season the river draws a plenty of animals, giving a giant plentiful food. Different animals approach to the river, but not all of them can become food for the crocoturtle. Flathorns are too large, and harelopes try to keep closer to these giants. And kangoohoppers are cautious, but desired catch. The turtle inhales air, breathing noisily the lengthened nose, and dives. Current carries away a strip of stired silt - traces of the reptile creeping in a bottom. At last it chooses a place among plants. Large leaves of water lilies hide its head. Cautiously having raised eyes above water, the turtle looks over vicinities. Having noticed the pack of kangoohoppers jumping to water, the reptile is silently immersed in water and creeps to a coast. First kangoohoppers having come on a watering place, immerse muzzles in water and start to drink greedy. They came from apart, therefore they want to get drunk in plenty. Back animals push and restrict front ones, and soon one animal makes a fatal step in water.
As if the blasting cartridge has blown up under water: the huge head of a turtle on a long neck is thrown out from water, strikes a blow on a body of the kangoohopper, snaps it and carries off under water. Other animals speed away by long jumps. They do not understand, that now water is much more safe, than before attack: the turtle has received dinner, and it will not hunt any more during some next hours.
In the evening on a coast the chevrotain finds the rests of the kangoohopper - a head and a part of a backbone. It gnaws round the rests of meat from a carrion with pleasure. But thus the animal keeps on the alert, or else anyone can act the same with its own remains.
In a drought the life of boaropotamuses is uneasy. These animals prefer to spend days in water, at night feeding on a coast. When evening falls, tens of these animals leave on a coast. The chevrotain, gnawing remains of the kangoohopper, jumps aside and disappears in reeds. And massive giants get out to a coast, uttering an indistinct uterine grunt. Grasses are their food. Even the dry grass is used by them. The complex stomach of these creatures will help them to digest even the most fibrous and dry vegetation. Giants eat branches of bushes, tear a dry grass. From time to time the night silence is broken with a flapping of wings of the bird disturbed by giants which hurries up to be covered from calm rufflers.
The skin of boaropotamuses is scratched in a drought, therefore animals willingly rub themselves against trees (it is making to the big displeasure of the birds who are spending the night on this tree). Sometimes animals wallow in mud and sand.
Early morning finds boaropotamuses for a way to water. Animals smell about, being afraid of predators. Near water on sand footprints of night travellers are clearly printed: footprints of birds, lizards and small rodents. Atop of them footprints of the deadlynetta were printed, and from a grass in water a strange trace stretches as if someone has dragged a bag filled something heavy on sand. This trace smells as a musk. The old female sniffs at a trace and snorts, pressing ears. This smell is a smell of the crocoturtle. Boaropotamuses do not tolerate presence of these predators, therefore the herd begins approach. Cubs and teenagers remain on a coast; they are restricted from water by the young female. Other animals enter into water and start to dive. On a surface bubbles from floating animals appear. And from water a huge crocoturtle appears later – it is the old male. Even its turtle brain understands, that it is no hope to him to cope with the several annoyed boaropotamuses. He leaves water hasty and creeps on a coast further from a favourite wallow of giants. Few animals which terribly wind heads accompanies with him, snort and stamp legs. When day time heat comes, all boaropotamuses safely hide themselves in water.
The drought season on Neocaenic Nile lasts only about two months. Above Indian ocean thunderclouds which carry rains on continent are formed and provide continuation of life circle.
The ocean is rich in life not less, than a land. Numerous islands on shallow waters of ocean are the real hearth of new life. Ecosystems of these islands are combined by natives of the sea and air, and they deserve to get acquainted with them.

Bestiary

Spider catfish (Arachnosynodontis inconspicuus)
Order: Catfishes (Siluriformes)
Family: Mochokidae

Original predatory fish, the descendant of modern species of upside-down catfishes Synodontis nigriventris. This fish is up to 60 - 70 cm long (a head is 15 - 20 cm long). In back and pectoral fins there are poisonous spikes. It is a ambuscader predator attacking on swimming on water surface catch from below, from under floating leaves of water plants. The most part of time it spends in a pose characteristic for many representatives of family: upwards belly. The fish is remarkable by special colouring appropriate to usual position of a fish: the abdomen is painted in dark-brown color (it looks like color of an oozy bottom), a back is dark-green or reddish-brown "gauze" on light-green background (it is an imitation of color of the bottom surface of water lily leaves). For detection of catch the fish uses long wattles (the pair of wattles on the top jaw is up to 1,2 m long, two pairs of feather-like lower jaw wattles are up to 1 m long). The fish places wattles by a circle, tips on a surface of water. On wattlers the set of vibro-, electro- and the chemoreceptors is located, allowing to define presence and features of alive creatures even in muddy water. Usual catch of a catfish contains ducklings, small animals, birds and the insects having got in water. If it is necessary the catfish can eat invertebrates from the bottom side of water lily leaves or fishes and frogs.
This species breeds, throwing eggs to clutches of trapmouth frog eggs. The spawning occurs in group: one or two pairs of fishes distract the male of the trapmouth frog protecting recently laid eggs, and other pair will penetrate into a clutch of the frog, eats a part of eggs and replaces it with it’s own ones. After that a bit later pairs vary roles. Fries are hatch before tadpoles (at the 5-th day) and eat up to half of frog’s eggs up to a hatching of tadpoles. Fries grow slowly, and their most part perishes from youngsters and neotenic tadpoles of the trapmouth frog.

Trapmouth frog (Stomatophrys neothenica)
Order: Tailless amphibians (Anura)
Family: Ranidae

This large frog is the descendant of African bull frog (Pyxicephalus adspersus). It mounts to 40 - 45 cm long (males are up to 30 cm), about 40 % of length falls to a head with large strong jaws. Females weigh up to 8 - 9 kg, males - up to 4 - 5 kg. Legs are short, but strong: the frog quickly swims, by the ground moves at a walk (similarly to toads); this frog species can not jump. Colouring of a back and sides is changeable: from grassy green up to a dark-brown like color of dirt and silt. Belly is always light-coloured: at males yellow, at females - white. This species is the ambush predator: it can be dug in sand and a dirt, parts of dead plants, or it simply hides itself under leaves of marsh grasses. Prey contains any small animals up to 2 kg weight not having shells. Frog rushes on catch with speed up to 1,5 - 2 meters per second. Jaw might allows frog to shatter by one bite a skull or a chest of a rabbit-sized animal.
Lives in more or less constant lakes and the rivers, in case of a drought it is capable to move overland on distances up to 10 - 15 kms (frog passes up to 5 kms per night). For the period of stay on land the skin becomes covered by a wax cover - a product of skin glands secretion, it allows the frog to spend an internal water so economically, as well as truly ground animal.
Trapmouth frog breeds, laying eggs (up to 8 - 9 thousand ones) to shallow, well warmed up places of river coast among vegetation. The male protects a clutch, patroling environmental territory and attacking any animals of the size comparable to him, including fishes. After hatching of tadpoles (through 10 - 11 day) male does not care for posterity and throws young growth.
Tadpoles are predators, gather in the big one-age schools and hunt in a channel of the river to fries of fishes, tadpoles of other frogs, larvae of insects. For 3 years they are capable to grove up to 1 meter long (2/3 of the lengths the tail makes up) and to weigh thus up to 5 kg. The tadpole of this frog living in constant reservoirs, is capable to breed, not passing a full metamorphosis. The meter long tadpole has full-formed hind legs with normally developed fingers, assisting at movement in thickets of plants, and also lungs are formed in addition to gills. The metamorphosis of tadpoles occurs completely at deterioration and rise in temperature of water (for example, in a drought when tadpoles appear in ponds divided from the basic channel of the river). Thus tadpoles of the first year of life turn to young frogs for one week, and 2 - 3-years for 12 - 15 days (actually they become adult frogs of the normal size). After 6-th year of life the tadpole is not capable to a metamorphosis because of radical changes in hormonal system.

Crocoturtle (Archotrionyx vorax)
Order: Turtles (Testudines)
Family: Trionychidae

Heat-loving crocodiles have transferred the mass extinction of species previous to Neocene approaching with the big damage for an order. The majority of species of these reptiles has become extinct, the area of group was sharply reduced. In Africa crocodiles have disappeared almost completely. It has brought double benefit to turtles, their neighbours: the basic enemy and the competitor has disappeared, and the favourable ecological niche of a large water predator was empted.
The crocoturtle is the ecological analogue of the crocodile which has descended from large African soft-shelled turtles Trionyx triunguis. The animal has increased in size from approximately 1 meter up to 3,5 meters from which it falls 1,5 meters on a long neck and a head. The tail is up to 0,4 m long, it serves for deposition of fat for the period of hunger during a drought. Initially reduced carapace has disappeared practically completely: there is only skin plica on edge of a body (which began higher). Colouring of a body is gray-blue, a back is more dark, around of an eye there is a color ring: at males red, at females and not sexual matured individuals - yellow. The basic movement organs are the strong paws paddling alternately or simultaneously (as at sea turtles). Using paws the turtle tears apart its prey: any possible alive animals in weight up to 200 - 300 kg, and also a carrion. On animal forepaws there are three strong claws in length up to 20 cm.
Exclusively predator, eats a fish and any animals whom can drag off in water and drown. A bite of powerful jaws (the length of a head is up to 50 cm, width - up to 40 cm) is capable to bite through a leg bone of a cow-sized animal. Turtle catches terrestrial prey, having hidden near a coast in watering places or ford, catches up fishes accelerating momentum under water up to 50 kms per hour in a throw. It snatches catch, throwing out forward a head on a long neck. The solitary animal, at large catch some individuals can gather on.
Breeds, laying 40 - 50 eggs on small sandy islands in a channel of the river. A clutch is not protecting, the adult animal can have eaten own posterity. An incubating lasts up to 40 - 45 day, length of a newborn turtle is up to 10 cm. Animal becomes sexual mature in 12 - 15 years (at males earlier), lives over 150 years, sometimes up to 200 years and more.

Flamingo duck (Nasoanas planctophaga)
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Ducks are herbivorous, less often - piscivorous water birds living on fresh waters and in the seas. As almost ducks depend on ground and freshwater vegetation, and also from a benthos of coastal sea waters, they have high probability to survive in case of the global ecological accident causing mass extinction of species. So, one of ancestral forms of anserine birds, Presbyornis, has survived at mass extinction of species at the end of a Mesozoic and began one of succeeding species of birds in early Cenozoic.
The flamingo duck is a small filtrating duck (weighs 300 - 350 grammes), differs the fringy palate and tongue (it is the adaptation for filtering of phyto- and a zooplancton and gathering of filamentous algae i. e. the bird is the ecological double of the flamingo on fresh reservoirs). Duck feeds in well illumined and warmed up parts of slow flowing reservoirs, grazes from a bottom filamentous and blue – green algae on shallow waters.
The bird is coloured brightly: the male is grey with a blue-grey shade, a head is brown with a red crest, a beak is white, legs are bright red, on wings there are green "mirrors". The female is motley, brown - grey with green "mirrors" on wings, a beak and legs are yellow. Nestlings (8 – 10 ones in a hatch) are striped, yellow with longitudinal brown strips on a head, a back, cheeks and wings, a beak and legs are dark-grey. The nest is making in thickets of marsh vegetation, less often - in tree-trunk hollows low above the ground.

Fang chevrotain (Potamomoschus macrodens)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Tragulidae

The inhabitant of the African rivers and bogs, a water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus) is a real “alive fossil, kept practically unchanged from an early Cenozoic. The animal is small, omnivorous, it has practically no competitors in the habitat. It is possible, that during mass extinction of species this chevrotain can be kept in damp woods of the western coast of Africa. Owing to a drying climat tropical woods and bogs can be kept only in walleys of the large African rivers, but the small size, the big set of food kinds and poor specialization of this kind of animals allow to assume, that in these habitats it will be kept large population enough for reproduction and a survival of species.
Fang chevrotain is the descendant of modern water chevrotains (Hyemoschus). After extinction of most hoofed mammals of plain habitats at its ancestors the opportunity of settling of the empted habitats has appeared. It has considerably increased in size: length of a body is up to 150 cm, growth at a shoulder is up to 1 meter. Colouring is cross-striped: on a brown background there are yellow strips; cubs (2, less often 1 or 3) are spotty. The head is large, jaws are long, animal is hornless. In a mouth of males there are long canines (length up to 7 - 9 cm) with the wide basis. They are used for excavation from ground of plants and invertebrates, and also at an establishment of domination relations: males open a mouth (a corner of jaw disclosing is up to 120 °) and show canines, uttering menacing sounds. In fight canines are not used (impacts are put by forward legs as at some deer), but the animal is protected from the attacked predator by stings, putting deep lacerations.
Animal lives in coastal districts, in a high herbage, on boggy lands. Hoofs are long, wide, at movement on a bog they can be moved apart, increasing the area of a support. Chevrotains keep by family groups of the dominant male, 1 - 2 subordinated males, 5 - 6 females with calves of different age. Eats marsh and water plants (can eat a rigid sedge and a cane), invertebrates. The family group occupies the certain territory which is protected and marked by secretions of strongly developed musk glands.
Usually it is silent, a voice of a quiet animal is a bleating, shout of alarm - abrupt resonant bark. In case of danger the group can disappear from enemies in water (animals can swim and dive good)

Boaropotamus (Hippochoerus natans)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Suidae


Initial picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)
Improved by Alexander Smyslov

Initial image, made by Pavel Volkov

The appearing of this species is an original “second attempt” of non-ruminant artiodactyls to be fixed in water habitats. After extinction of large hoofed mammals (including hippopotamuses) their ecological niche appeared free. Pigs due to the ecological plasticity, high rate of generation alternation and speciation managed to go through mass extinction.
The boaropotamus is the descendant of modern bush pigs (Potamochoerus porcus). It differs from them in the huge size: length of its body is up to 3 - 3,5 meters, height at a shoulder - up to 1,5 - 1,7 m, weight is up to 2 - 2,5 tons. A constitution is heavy-built, a head is huge (up to 80 cm in length). In a mouth there are the long canines bent up. Canines of the top jaw are given outside, bent in sides and upwards. This feature means of defense: the attacked animal aspires to hook on the opponent canines and to reject aside (modern boars defend also). The skin is almost hairless, grey, it is covered with thin hair. On a head and a neck hair are thick and longer, forming original "crest" (at males more marked, than at females). A head is flattish from above, eye-sockets and nostrils of an animal laying in water rise above a surface of water. A tail is up to 1 meter long, with a hairy brush on the end; by position of a tail animals express the mood. Legs are thick, hoofs are short; hoofs III and IV are well advanced, hoofs II and V can be not appreciable externally. The sole of a leg is covered with a layer of a cornificate skin (as at elephant’s foot).
This is a water animal, having a rest in the afternoon and sleeps in water, at night it leaves water to be grazed on land. Lives in the rivers, sometimes can be met in large not drying up lakes. At a drought animal is capable to pass in new reservoirs, making transitions on 100 - 150 kms. It lives in the herds consisting of several families under the leading of dominant males. Males show aggression to each other only in a breeding season.
Female gives birth to 1 - 2 cubs once a year, in the beginning of a rain season. Sexual maturity is in 5 years, animal lives till 60 years and more.

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