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Adam Bannister


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on Why the Giraffe has a Short Neck

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Awesome post Ad! I think you are right, in that looking for a single reason for the height of a giraffe is not the answer. All the elements, from browsing higher branches, a good vantage point and legs not only long enough for a good stride but also long enough to make it almost impossible for a lion to jump on it’s back. These all need to be balanced against the cons of being so tall, such as instability while running which can result in a fall, or vulnerability when drinking. It’s about finding a trade off between all of these. For instance a longer neck, which would enable it to drink easier, would increase instability, or put too much strain on the heart to pump blood all the way up to the brain.

One thing I think we need to also need to remember is that we often think of what we see as the final picture in evolution. However, we are simply looking at a tiny snapshot in time, with evolution continuing as we speak. So perhaps in millions of years time, agile tree climbing browsers will have evolved to outcompete the short necked giraffe, which will be relegated to fossils, generating debate amongst the scientists of the future!


This is truly enlightened, and I love it. And David, you are so spot on! We are slap bang in the heart of evolution and it doesn’t stop for anyone 🙂


Thank you very much for the new perspective, I appreciate the different views! Evolution is amazing, although I do wish the animals had evolved more quickly then we. I certainly hope they continue to evolve, and we continue to enjoy them ALL! I’ll never look at a giraffe the same again!


Great post Ad! I’m sure i read somewhere about giraffe having 7.5 vertebrae or at least there being some evidence of the slow evolution of an extra vertebrae on the giraffe… are giraffe getting taller? On evolution… latest research indicates that global warming will have the effect of making animals smaller (at least 4 in 10, with one getting bigger and the rest remaining the same) and what effect are we having on animal evolution? With restricted movements and range, surely we are altering to some degree the evolutionary paths of animals…. Can’t begin to imagine where the giraffe might end up .(rooting around on its knees like warthogs?)

Hi Tom, thanks for the comments. I find it fascinating to think on the lines of evolution being a continuos process. I fear that we as humans are far to arogant to think that we are just part of the greater processes and schemes and are not actually the be all and end all.

Goodness, I love giraffes, and these wonderful fun facts trying to explain why the animals of Africa have come to be the way that they are.

I actually wrote a new post on giraffes and some of their traits on my recent trip to Africa on my recent blog post – would love it if you were to check it out! paigingdoctor.com/giraffe-ic-park/

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10 April, 2798
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