Genetic analysis uncovers four species of giraffe, not just one

Up until now, scientists had only recognized a single species of giraffe made up of several subspecies. But, according to the most inclusive genetic analysis of giraffe relationships to date, giraffes actually aren't one ...

'Giraffe of the Mesozoic' Discovered

( -- A creature dubbed a "Giraffe of the Mesozoic" has been discovered in China. The animal, with its giraffe-like long neck and long forelimbs is the first well-preserved Early Cretaceous brachiosaurid dinosaur ...

Brachiosaurus and other dinosaurs like a vacuum cleaner

( -- In a recent study published in Biology Letters, Professor Graeme Ruxton from the University of Glasgow and Dr. David Wilkinson from Liverpool John Moores University use mathematics and a comparison to the ...

Sumatran tiger may be euthanized at Indonesia zoo (Update)

An emaciated female Sumatran tiger was in critical condition at Indonesia's largest zoo Wednesday and may have to be put down after another rare tiger died at the problem-plagued facility earlier this month.

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The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all extant land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant. Its scientific name, which is similar to its archaic English name of camelopard, refers to its irregular patches of color on a light background, which bear a vague resemblance to a leopard's spots, and its face, which is similar to that of a camel. In addition to these features, the giraffe is noted for its extremely long neck and legs and prominent horns. It stands 5–6 meters (16–20 ft) tall and has an average weight of 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb) for males and 830 kilograms (1,800 lb) for females. It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi. There are nine subspecies of giraffe, which differ in size, coloration, pattern and range.

The giraffe's range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east, but it is very scattered. Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands and open woodlands. They prefer areas with plenty of acacia trees, which are important food sources. Thanks to their extreme height, giraffes can browse for vegetation that most other herbivores cannot reach. They are also nearly invulnerable to predation, although lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, wild dogs and Nile crocodiles prey on calves, and lions take adults in some areas. Although they commonly gather together, giraffe aggregations usually disband every few hours. Male giraffes use their necks to hit each other in combat, a behavior known as "necking". Males mate with multiple females. Females bear the sole responsibility for raising their young.

The giraffe has been prized by various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often featured in paintings, novels and cartoons. Despite its popularity, it has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, and some subspecies are classified as endangered. Nevertheless, it is still found in numerous reserves. As a species, the giraffe is classified by the IUCN as Least Concern.

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