Study: Giraffes are more than one species

Dec 23, 2007

A new study suggests there may be at least six species of giraffe in Africa, rather than one as they are currently classified.

"Lumping all giraffes into one species obscures the reality that some kinds of giraffe are on the brink" of extinction, said David Brown, a geneticist and the study's lead author. "Some of these populations number only a few hundred individuals and need immediate protection."

Today, there are fewer than 100,000 giraffes, whose numbers have seen a 30 percent drop in the last decade, Brown told the BBC.

Using molecular technology, Brown's team determined at least six groups of giraffes -- the world's tallest animals -- are reproductively isolated and different enough from each other to be classified as species, rather than subspecies as they now are classified.

Brown, who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, said giraffes in need of protection include the Nigerian giraffe, which number about 160, and the Rothschild giraffe, which has been reduced to only a few hundred.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Breaking down DNA by genome

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Extinct giant kangaroos may have been hop-less

Oct 15, 2014

Now extinct giant kangaroos most likely could not hop and used a more rigid body posture to move their hindlimbs one at a time, according to a study published October 15, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ON ...

Flies give another twist in the evolving story of heredity

Oct 10, 2014

Thanks to the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, and his experiments cross-breading peas, the textbooks tell us that we know how inheritance works: we get 50% of our genes from our mums and 50% of our genes ...

Size doesn't matter if you're a sex sneak

Sep 10, 2014

Research into the mating behaviour of one of New Zealand's most unusual insects shows it doesn't always pay to be brave – sneaking sex can be just as effective.

Recommended for you

Breaking down DNA by genome

9 hours ago

New DNA sequencing technologies have greatly advanced genomic and metagenomic studies in plant biology. Scientists can readily obtain extensive genetic information for any plant species of interest, at a relatively low cost, ...

Is fleet diversity key to sustainable fisheries?

16 hours ago

Concern about fisheries is widespread around the world. Over the past several decades, a robust discussion has taken place concerning how to manage fisheries better to benefit ecosystems and humans. Much of the discussion ...

Strange, fanged deer persists in Afghanistan

17 hours ago

More than 60 years after its last confirmed sighting, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs still persists in the rugged forested slopes of northeast Afghanistan according to a research team led by the Wildlife ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.