Hippopotamus lemerlei Grandidier in Milne-Edwards, 1868

Madagascan dwarf hippopotamus, Malagasy hippo, Lemerle's hippopotamus



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status


Last record: Holocene

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


Reports of Hippopotamus madagascariensis (=H. lemerlei) were made up until 1976 (Burney & Ramilisonina, 1998). However, the extant Common hippo[potamus] has been known to swim from Africa to Madagascar (Mahé, 1972), and hence could be the source of some or all such reports. However, Paul Mazza* has called into question the possibility of Hippo's swimming or rafting generally, but to Madagascar especially (Mazza, In Press; P. Mazza, pers. comm. May 2014). His views have been criticised by (van der Geer et al. In Press).


*Department of Earth Sciences, University of Florence, Italy





Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Grandidier, A. (1868). Sur les découvertes zoologiques faites récemment à Madagascar. Annales des Sciences naturelles, 5 Zoologie et Paléontologie X: 375–378.


Other references:

Boisserie, J.-R. 2016. Hippopotamus lemerlei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40782A90128915. Downloaded on 23 July 2016.

Burney, D. A. and Ramilisonina. (1998). The kilopilopitsofy, kidoky and bokyboky: accounts of strange animals from Belo-sur-Mer, Madagascar, and the megafaunal “extinction window”. American Anthropologist 100(4): 957-966. [automatic download]

Forsyth Major, C. J. (1902). Some account of a nearly complete skeleton of Hippopotamus madagascariensis Guld., from Sirabé, Madagascar, obtained in 1895. Geological Magazine IX, 455: 193-199.

Fovet W., Faure M. and Guérin C. (2011). Hippopotamus guldbergi n. sp.: revision of the status of Hippopotamus madagascariensis Guldberg, 1883, after more than a century of misunderstanding and taxonomical confusions. Zoosystema 33(1):61-82. [Abstract]

Godfrey, L. R. (1986). The Tale of the Tsy-aomby-aomby. The Sciences [1986]: 49-51.

Guldberg G. A. (1883). Undersøgelser over en subfossil flodhest fra Madagascar. Christiania Videnskabsselskab forhandlinger 6: 1-24. (in Riksmaal language)

Hampe, Oliver, Schwarz-Wings, D., Bickelmann, C. and Klein, N. (2010). Fore limb bones of late Pleistocene dwarf hippopotamuses (Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla) from Madagascar previously determined as belonging to the crocodylid Voay Brochu, 2007. Fossil Record 13: 303-307. [Abstract]

MacPhee, R. D. E. and Burney, David A. (1991). Dating of modified femora of extinct dwarf Hippopotamus from Southern Madagascar: Implications for constraining human colonization and vertebrate extinction events. Journal of Archaeological Science 18: 695-706.

Mahé, J. (1972). The Malagasy subfossils, pp. 339-366. In: Battistini, R. and Richard-Vindard, G. (eds.). Biogeography and Ecology in Madagascar. The Hague, Netherlands: W. Junk.

Mahé, J., and Sourdat, M. (1972). Sur l'extinction des vertébrés subfossiles et I'aridification du climat dans le sud-ouest de Madagascar. Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France 14: 295-309.

Mazza, Paul P. A. (2014). If Hippopotamuses cannot swim, how did they colonize islands? Lethaia. DOI: 10.1111/let.12074 [Abstract]

Muldoon, Kathleen M. et al. (2012). Early Holocene fauna from a new subfossil site: A first assessment from Christmas River, south central Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation & Development 7(1): 23-29.

Pandolfi, Luca et al. (2020). Investigating ecological and phylogenetic constraints in Hippopotamidae skull shape. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafi (Research in Paleontology and Stratigraphy) 126(1): 37-49.

Rakotovao, Marius et al. (2014). Hippopotamus lemerlei Grandidier, 1868 et Hippopotamus madagascariensis Guldberg, 1883 (Mammalia, Hippopotamidae) : anatomie crânio-dentaire et révision systématique. Geodiversitas 36(1): 117-161. [Abstract]

Raybaud. (1902). Rapport de M. I'administrateur Raybaud sur les gisements fossiliferes d'Ampasambazimba. Bulletin de l'Academie Malgache 1(2): 64-67.

Rosenberger, Alfred L. et al. (In Press, 2015). Giant subfossil lemur graveyard discovered, submerged, in Madagascar. Journal of Human Evolution. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.01.004

Samonds, Karen E. et al. (2019). A new late Pleistocene subfossil site (Tsaramody, Sambaina basin, central Madagascar) with implications for the chronology of habitat and megafaunal community change on Madagascar’s Central Highlands. Journal of Quaternary Science 34(6): 379-392. https://doi.org/10.1002/jqs.3096

Stuenes, S. (1989). Taxonomy, habits, and relationships of the subfossil Madagascan hippopotami Hippopotamus lemerlei and H. madagascariensis. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 9(3): 241-268.

van der Geer, A. A. E., Anastasakis, G. and Lyras, G. A. (2014). If hippopotamuses cannot swim, how did they colonize islands: a reply to Mazza. Lethaia. doi: 10.1111/let.12095 [Abstract]

Weston, Eleanor M. and Lister, Adrian M. (2009). Insular dwarfism in hippos and a model for brain size reduction in Homo floresiensis. Nature 459: 85-88.


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