The jaws are short and strong, and the width of the zygomatic arches, and great development of the bony ridges on the skull, give ample space for the attachment of the powerful muscles by which they are closed.
The facial portion of the skull is very short; a long process of the maxillary bone descends from the anterior part of the zygomatic arch; and the ascending ramus of the mandible is remarkably high.
It shows the characteristic hippopotamus-flange to the lower jaw, but has also a large descending process from the jugal bone of the zygomatic arch of the skull.
They are specially distinguished by the great development of the anterior half of the zygomatic arch of the skull, and by the presence in the boars of a horny protuberance of the skin in front of each eye, which overlies a tuberosity on the nasal bone; the molars are also small and simple, and the anterior premolars are generally shed at an early stage of life.
The latter sends a horizontal or slightly ascending process backwards below the orbit to join the under surface of the zygomatic process of the squamosal, which is remarkably large, and instead of ending as usual behind the orbit, runs forwards to join the greatly developed post-orbital process of the frontal, and even forms part of the posterior and inferior boundary of the orbit, an arrangement not met with in other mammals.
The zygomatic arch is variously developed, and the position of the jugal is a character for grouping the families.
The most remarkable feature of the genus is, however, the extraordinary development of the zygomatic arches of the skull, which are enormously expanded vertically, forming great convex bony capsules on the sides of the face, enclosing on each side a large cavity lined with mucous membrane internally, and communicating by a small opening with the mouth.
The front root of the zygomatic arch is nearly vertical, and placed so far back that it is above the second molar, while the orbit - a unique feature among rodents - is almost completely surrounded by bone.
In the skull the tympanic bulla is hollow, the pterygoid fossa shallow and the zygomatic arch slender, with a rudimentary jugal bone.
In the skull the zygomatic arch is slender and the jugal bone small and not extending far forwards, being supported by the long zygomatic process of the maxilla, while the infra-orbital foramen is mostly large, and there are no post-orbital processes.