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NCIS Zoology 101: Farting Hippos
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Dr Abby Sciuto, PhD, Member of the Royal Zoological Society (Washington DC chapter).
Right! All you students hanging out in the back row, could you pay attention now because Bert is very sensitive and it would hurt his feelings if he thought you were not interested in hippos.
All of you know Bert: he is the best hippo. Hippopotamus is a cool word, derived from the Greek for "River Horse" but it's not really a type of horse. They are extremely good swimmers, they weigh a lot and if you make them angry, you're the one who is likely to end up dead so the big message there is "BE NICE TO HIPPOS".
Now, as you all know, hippos are animalia of the phylum chordata and species mammalia. They're mammals, just like us. Except bigger. Their superorder is Certotadactyla and their order is Artiodactyla, and since most people immediately think "pterodactyls" and flying dinosaurs, I just want to say "They're not". Their family name is, of course, Hippopotimidae and the genus is Hippopotamus of which their species is Hippopotamus amphibius. Now I have to tell you guys that it is great to actually be allowed to finish that sentence without Agent Gibbs glaring at me.
Now, how do we detect farts in hippos? Usually it is by sound, but in some cases this would be an incorrect conclusion. To illustrate, watch this clip on YouTube of farting hippos.
What are colloquially known as farts are actually gases produced from the digestion of food, in the gut of a mammal. Cows are known to be very good at farting but they do have four stomachs. However, unlike cows, Hippos are non-ruminating animals.
Now, any of the class who watched the earlier series of NCIS will know that Bert the Hippo is not an actual for real living and breathing hippo but he is a hippo nonetheless. Bert is actually very soft and cuddly (unlike real life hippos) and he doesnt mind being indoors and being dry (whereas real hippos stay in the water all day outdoors). Bert is more a Hippopotamus Cuddlius rather than Hippo. Amphibius. He has multiple purposes: he can function as a comforter, as someone to talk to when left alone in one's lab for unconscionably long lengths of time, as a pillow for Tony to rest his head on when injured from bomb blasts just after having been poisoned with the plague (it can be very dangerous working on this show, you know).
Bert attracted special attention from Dr Mallard's mother, Mrs Mallard who has actually seen them for real in real life. She considered bert "delightful".
A little known benefit of Bert is that, given that his farts are so loud, you can use them to camouflage your own personal ones if you ate too much curry or chili last night. Unfortunately, Bert cannot hide the odour of a curry fart, but I am working on developing a smell-neutralising agent that will not affect the evidence that I process in the lab.
Bert is considered male but actually is not anatomically correct, so it might bemore accurate to consider him a hermaphrodite. He has the same psychological benefits of having a dog or cat but without the hassle of feeding him.
So, that's all you need to know! Anyone who wants to gain extra course credit can invent a thread and add it to this page. Fart jokes are welcome but try not to include smelly ones. In the meantime, keep farting!
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