“Giraffe as a species are generally poorly understood,
with simple questions like their population numbers, genetics, ecology,
movement and natural history only just beginning to be investigated.”
Dr. Keith Leggett
One of the tallest mammals on the planet is the giraffe. For years, the origin of its long, slender neck baffled the scientific community. Scientists worked around the theory that the evolution enabled the mammals to find food in higher places, and to help them better fight predators.
The giraffe’s beautiful long neck didn’t happen over night. A new study is proving that the evolution of the giraffe’s long neck happened in several stages over millions of years. The study found that the giraffe’s third vertebra from the top of a mammal’s spine began to elongate in one cluster of the mammal’s species. Millions of years later, the back part of the vertebra started to extend.
Fast forward to today, the modern giraffe is the only giraffe species whose vertebra elongated in both front and back. This evolutionary alteration explains the occurrence of its slender and unusually long neck.