Experts say that widely accepted models for the methods, patterns, and timing of the colonization and dispersal to several islands (e.g. Cyprus, Crete, and Madagascar) may need to be reconsidered.
“Although land bridge connections between these islands and the mainland are not currently supported by positive geological evidence, neither is there any contradictory evidence to exclude it,” said Dr. Paul Mazza, author of a Lethaia article on the topic.
Yes, but to assume a land bridge existed (absent geological evidence) because hippos lived on an island is a leap too far, as the authors seem to realize.
They deserve credit for not just asserting a land bridge. Just as the good can be the enemy of the best, the easy explanation can be the enemy of the correct one. Literally, if a correct explanation comes along later but a party has formed to defend the easy one. 😉
For better science, it has to be okay to say we just don’t know right now.
For one thing, is it really true that hippos can’t swim?
This one seems to be swimming. But could it swim a long distance?
Here’s the abstract:
Owing to their aquatic lifestyle, hippopotamuses are normally believed to have reached islands by swimming. Yet, some studies suggest they cannot swim due to their relatively high density. If so, this raises the question of how hippopotamuses would have reached some islands. Their immigration into the British Isles, Sicily, Malta, Zanzibar and Mafia can be accounted for, because these islands sit on continental shelves and were often linked to the mainland during the Pleistocene glacio-eustatic sea-level falls. In contrast, their occurrence in Crete, Cyprus and Madagascar would be more difficult to explain. Available geological evidence does not seem to rule out that the latter islands might have been connected with the nearest mainland areas in very recent times. This study intends to consider possibilities about how hippopotamuses reached islands and to show that more effective collaboration is required among specialists involved with the study of insular evolution, colonization and speciation.
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