The next time someone says “that’ll happen when pigs fly,” you can tell them that warthogs have been airborne since 1975 – A-10.
“Warthogs” that is. But why on Earth would a high-tech military aircraft have such a nickname? Let’s take a closer look at the African warthog and see if we can find the answer.
When a warthog is startled or threatened, it boasts a running speed of up to thirty miles per hour. They are so well-adapted to the dry seasons of their African savanna habitat they can go several months without water. By tolerating a higher-than-normal body temperature, the warthog – like camels and desert gazelles – may be able to conserve moisture inside its body that would otherwise be used for cooling.
But while speed and hardiness certainly give the warthog bragging rights, warthogs are generally far more inclined to hide than to fight. They typically seek out empty aardvark dens to back into, using their four sharp tusks to guard the entrance. Their high-set eyes allow them to monitor their surroundings even when grazing. (Even so, warthog vision is poor, and they rely on their senses of smell and hearing.) They’re only violent during mating season when the solitary males engage in ritual fights. They charge other males straight on, clashing their heads when they meet.
Warthogs are not particularly graceful or beautiful, and they cannot be described as brave. But what they lack in appearance and valor, they compensate for in ruggedness. It is likely this ruggedness that earned the A-10 its nickname.