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2015-07-02
Long legs and a long neck


Last night was a quiet one thank goodness that naughty Elephant did not come close to our fence but they were still in the area putting up roadblocks for other landowners.

We noticed a strange phenomenon yesterday. As we were driving out on Sambane Drive we noticed damp sand here and there we also noticed this on the sandy patches on Thakadu Drive and on Tambotie Loop.

This must have been dew, those tiny drops of water that form on cool surfaces at night, when atmospheric vapour condenses. (Wikipedia) The sand was moistened with drops of liquid and yes we could smell that typical smell of moist in the air.

Have you noticed the tiny dewdrops on the ants body?

Is nature not too amazing?

Despite having extremely long necks (up to 2m long), giraffes have seven cervical vertebra, the same number as humans. The cervical or neck vertebrae are just elongated. The elongation process of the vertebrae only starts after birth as the birth will be difficult if the calf has the same neck proportions as the adults. There are several hypotheses why giraffes have long necks. The first hypothesis is the “competitive browsing hypothesis”. There was a suggestion that when the neck was short, there was an increase in competition for browsing material with species like kudu, impala and steenbok. Longer necks means that they can reach browsing material that is out of reach of other browsers. Another hypothesis is that giraffes developed longer necks to compete better with other males when fighting to establish dominance and have better chances to mate with females. Another theory is that the longer necks evolved to enable giraffes to cope with the intense savanna heat (explanation below).

The long necks and good colour vision will also help the species to spot advancing predators.

 

Ossicones are protrusions on the head of the giraffe that consist of ossified cartilage and is covered with fur. These ossicones have several blood vessels underneath the skin and may play an important role in regulating temperature. The ossicones are also used by the males for fighting and may become balder as the individual ages. This helps in sexing giraffes. Females will have black tufts of hair on their ossicones while the males will have tops of the ossicones will be bald.

The closest living relative of giraffes is the Okapi that inhabit the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both species are found in the family Giraffidae and are believed to have evolved from a 3m tall deer-like animal roaming the plains and forests of Asia, Europe and even Africa. This animal lacked the long neck that is seen in modern day giraffes, but had ossicones that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of all giraffids.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giraffe

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/giraffe/

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-giraffes

http://abcsofanimalworld.blogspot.com/2011/08/different-colors-and-unique-patterns-of.html

http://www.giraffeconservation.org/giraffe_facts.php?pgid=51

http://www.giraffeconservation.org/giraffe_facts.php?pgid=6

http://www.thomsonsafaris.com/blog/giraffe-markings/ 

http://www.yourafricansafari.com/articles/africas-giraffe-subspecies

http://a-z-animals.com/animals/giraffe/

http://www.giraffeconservation.org/giraffe_facts.php?pgid=5

http://animals.mom.me/giraffe-own-pattern-spots-2908.html