When the German explorer Hans Schomburgk (1880 – 1967) sought the pygmy hippopotamus in Liberia in 1913, local Kru people told him about another pygmy animal, a rhinoceros, which lived in the mountains. Schomburgk searched for this animal, but failed to find it.
Schomburgk initially suspected that the pygmy rhinoceros could be the giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni), a famously elusive animal found in Liberia, but the Kru clearly distinguished the pygmy rhinoceros from this animal. Zoologist Édouard Louis Trouessart (1842 – 1927) and Bernard Heuvelmans suggested that the size of the pygmy hippopotamus could be explained by Liberia and nearby regions of West Africa having once been an island, making it an example of insular dwarfism; Heuvelmans argued that a rhinoceros living in what is now Liberia at the same time could have been subjected to the same process, giving rise to a pygmy species of rhinoceros. However, the pygmy hippopotamus is thought to have evolved from a similarly-sized ancestor.
Notes and references
- Heuvelmans, Bernard (1955) On the Track of Unknown Animals, Routledge, ISBN 978-1138977525
- Shuker, Karl P. N. (1991) Extraordinary Animals Worldwide, Robert Hale, ISBN 07090-44216
- Heuvelmans, Bernard "Annotated Checklist of Apparently Unknown Animals With Which Cryptozoology Is Concerned", Cryptozoology, No. 5 (1986)
- Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 1-57607-283-5
- Schomburgk, Hans (1922) Bwakukama: Fahrten und Forschungen mit Büchse und Film im Unbekannten Afrika
- Petronio, Carmelo "Note on the Taxonomy of Pleistocene Hippopotamuses," Ibex, Vol. 3 (1995)