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: Experts 'grasping at straws' to save near-extinct rhino

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 ...

Recommended for you

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

4 hours ago

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

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.