The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African
even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all land-living animal species, and the largest
ruminant. Males can be 4.8 to 5.5 metres (16 to 18 feet) tall and weigh up to 1,700
kilograms (3,800 pounds). The record-sized bull, shot in Kenya in 1934, was 5.87 m (19.2
ft) tall and weighed approximately 2,000 kg (4,400 lb).
The giraffe is related to deer and cattle, but is
placed in a separate family, the Giraffidae, consisting only of the giraffe and its
closest relative, the okapi. Its range extends from Chad to South Africa.
Giraffes can inhabit savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands. They prefer areas enriched
with acacia growth. They drink large quantities of water and, as a result, they can spend
long periods of time in dry, arid areas. When searching for more food they will venture
into areas with denser foliage.
Giraffids evolved from a 3 metre (10 ft) tall
antelope-like mammal which roamed Europe and Asia 30-50 million years ago.
Both sexes have horns, although the horns of a female
are smaller. The prominent horns are formed from ossified cartilage, and are called
ossicones. The appearance of horns is a reliable method of identifying the sex of
giraffes, with the females displaying tufts of hair on the top of the horns, where as
males' horns tend to be bald on top an effect of necking in combat. Males sometimes
develop calcium deposits which form bumps on their skull as they age, which can give the
appearance of up to three additional horns.
Giraffes have long necks which they use to browse tree
leaves. They possess seven vertebrae in the neck (the usual number for a mammal) that are
elongated. The vertebrae are separated by highly flexible joints. The base of the neck has
spines which project upward and form a hump over the shoulders. They have anchor muscles
that hold the neck upright.
Giraffe are most active in the early morning and late afternoon but also feed at night in
However, unlike many of Africa's wild animals that "disappear" under shady trees
during the heat of the day, giraffe continue browsing and because of their size, can be
spotted throughout daylight hours.
Giraffe will drink if water is available, but can survive without it. The forelegs are
straddled and the knees bent in order to get the head down low enough. While drinking they
are very vulnerable and will not drink if suspicious of danger.
Our Partner Sites Menu: Anti Gravity Technology Tree Pictures Winter Pictures Moose Pictures Deer Pictures Causes of Global Warming Affiliate Banner Ads, Free Energy Astronomy Pictures Ancient Symbols Unidentified Flying
Pictures Elk Pictures Ufo Videos Online giraffe information