A giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a mammal which lives in Africa. Giraffes have an even number of toes and are the tallest land animals. Giraffes and Okapi are the family Giraffidae, and are the only extant giraffids.
Appearance[change | change source]
Giraffes have a very long neck and long legs. Giraffes are the tallest land animals on Earth, with necks that can be up to 2-2.4 m (6.6-7.9 ft) in length. Fully grown giraffes stand 4.3–5.7 m (14.1–18.7 ft) tall, with males taller than females. The tallest recorded male was 5.88 m (19.3 ft) and the tallest recorded female was 5.17 m (17.0 ft) tall. The average weight is 1,192 kg (2,628 lb) for an adult male and 828 kg (1,825 lb) for an adult female. Maximum weights of 1,930 kg (4,250 lb) and having been recorded for males and females, respectively. They have a long black tongue, up to 45 cm in length. This they use to wrap around leaves and pull them off trees.
Their fur has a light yellowish tan or off-white colour with brown or russet patches. No two giraffes have the same pattern. The different sub-species have different coat patterns. Both male and female giraffes have small horn-like stumps on their head, which are covered with skin. The horns are called ossicones. These come from the cartilage displaced from their skull as it develops. These are fur-covered bumps on their skulls, unlike the horns of other animals.
Habitat[change | change source]
Giraffes are found in parts of Africa. They live on the savannah, which is the African grassland, or in light woodland. They do not live in thick forests where it is difficult to see predators (such as lions) approaching.The temperature is normally around 70 degrees. Most giraffes live either in East Africa or in Angola and Zambia in southwestern Africa.
Life[change | change source]
Giraffes eat mostly leaves from tall trees, which they can reach because of their long legs and long necks, as well as fruit. Their rough tongue allows them to eat the acacia leaves protected by thorns. They can go without water for weeks. Like all mammals, giraffes have only seven bones in their necks.
Giraffes live alone or in loose groups. Young male giraffes foa single baby, which is called "calf". Giraffes give birth while standing, so the baby falls down 2 metres. Giraffe calfs are already 2 m tall and weigh 50–55 kg. The calf stays with its mother for 11⁄2 years. Young giraffes become mature when they are 4 years old, and they are fully grown when they are 6 years old. Giraffes can live to 25 years old, and in captivity they can live 35 years.
Giraffes use their feet to kick predators away, and mature male giraffes use their head and necks to fight for dominance at mating time. These long necks, are, in fact, used as a weapon during the male on male intra–sexual battle that is also referred to as a spar. The females, who receive little to no aid from their partners in raising the calves, prefer the males that are victorious. Those with the longer and stronger necks will reproduce more frequently and keep their genes in the giraffe population for longer compared to the males with shorter, weaker necks.
There are about nine different subspecies of giraffe, with only small differences between them. When giraffes of two different sub-species breed, the young are called hybrids (mixed breeds). Of the nine sub-species of giraffe, only one, the Rothchild's, is endangered.
References[change | change source]
- FRSSAf, G. MITCHELL; FRSSAf, J. D. Skinner (2003-01-01). "On the origin, evolution and phylogeny of giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 58 (1): 51–73. doi:10.1080/00359190309519935. ISSN 0035-919X. S2CID 6522531.
- Maisano, Sarah. "Giraffa camelopardalis giraffe". Animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu.
- Owen-Smith R.N. 1988. Megaherbivores: the lnfluence of very large body size on ecology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Taylor M.P. & Wedel M.J. (2013). "Why sauropods had long necks; and why giraffes have short necks". PeerJ. 1: e36. doi:10.7717/peerj.36. PMC 3628838. PMID 23638372.
- Nowak, Ronald M.; Walker, Ernest Pillsbury (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World. JHU Press. pp. 1086–1089. ISBN 978-0-8018-5789-8.
- Dagg A.I. and J.B. Foster (1976/1982): The Giraffe: its biology, behavior, and ecology. Krieger , Malabar, Florida.
- Skinner, J.D.; Chimimba, Christian T. (1990). The mammals of the southern African subregion. University of Pretoria. pp. 616–20. ISBN 978-0-521-84418-5.
- Nicholls, Henry. "Giraffes may not have evolved long necks to reach tall trees". www.bbc.com. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
- Williams, Edgar M. (2016-09-12). "Giraffe Stature and Neck Elongation: Vigilance as an Evolutionary Mechanism". Biology. 5 (3): 35. doi:10.3390/biology5030035. ISSN 2079-7737. PMC 5037354. PMID 27626454.