Do you know the anatomy of a Giraffe?
In the harsh conditions of an African savannah, food, water and shelter are not easy to come by. Giraffes are well-adapted to this environment though, and can survive thanks to their unique anatomy. At up to almost six metres tall with an elongated neck measuring around 1.8 metres, a giraffe is tall enough to spot predators from quite a distance. Not only that, but they are able to reach food high up in the trees and, thanks to a 50-centimetre-long tongue, access food that other herbivores simply can’t.
Furthermore, a giraffes tongue contains melanin, making it dark blue-black, which is thought to protect it from the Sun’s rays as it grazes. And if a giraffe is fortunate enough to find plentiful foliage, it can survive for days without water.
This efficient eating is not only useful in hot, dry seasons when water is scarce, but it also reduces the amount of time spent bending down to drink, which is when a giraffe is at its most vulnerable. Another evolutionary safeguard that giraffes have developed is the ability to get by on just four hours of sleep a day. They take this by power napping for a few minutes at a time.
This means they don’t have to lie down for long periods of time, inviting lions and other such carnivores to pounce. While it stands against a backdrop of trees and bushes, the giraffe’s patchy coat provides the perfect camouflage, which offers more protection against potential predators.
Stand out features
See how the giraffe has evolved to stand tall in African woodlands and savannahs
When a giraffe walks or runs, it moves both legs on one side of the body, then both legs on the other side, a distinctive gait they share with camels.
A giraffe’s neck contains seven vertebrae. Each one has a ball-and-socket joint, making the neck extremely flexible.
A giraffe’s tongue can be over 50 centimeters long, great for wrapping around branches to strip away the leaves high up in the trees.
Giraffes can voluntarily close their nostrils to protect themselves in dust storms.
Known as nosecones, giraffe’s horns are used by males when they fight, known as necking.
The walls of the heart are very thick, as a giraffe needs a strong heart to pump blood to its faraway head.
Although no two giraffes have exactly the same pattern, giraffes from the same area have similar patterns.
Their hooves can be up to 30 centimeters in diameter and are split into two sections. The greater surface area distributes their weight more evenly.
A giraffe uses its long tongue to gather food from sources that other animals can’t reach Giraffes must spread or bend their legs to sip water, which makes them vulnerable to being attacked