The story behind giraffe’s long neck has recently been revealed by scientists. For a long period of time, scientists said that giraffes use their long neck in order to feed themselves or to enable them to fight.
A new study made on vertebrae showed that the evolution of their neck occurred over the years, in many stages. The study also shows the transformation taking place in extinct species being part of the giraffe family.
The increasing of their neck was not uniform, claimed Nikos Solounias, a giraffe expert.
“First, only the front portion of the C3 vertebra lengthened in one group of species. The second stage was the elongation of the back portion of the C3 neck vertebra,” he added.
The giraffe we know nowadays underwent both transformations and this is the reason why it has that long neck.
The study, published in Royal Society Open Science, also includes a computational model. It was made by Solounias and Melinda Danowitz, a medical student from the Academic Medicine Scholars. They studied 71 relics belonging to 9 extinct and 2 living species which are part of the giraffe family.
The bones were discovered in the 1800s and 1900s and preserved at museums from worldwide countries, such as Germany, Sweden, England, Kenya and Greece.
They discovered that the prolongation of the neck started million years ago, before the giraffe family appeared. But a more interesting discovery has been made. The two analyzed the anatomical features of several relics and compared them with the evolutionary tree.
It was observed that the prolongation starting from the head lengthened 7 million years ago in Samotherium, an extinct relative of the giraffe. Another stage of this prolongation took place 1 million years ago, but this time on the back part. The C3 vertebra of the modern giraffe is 9 times longer than its broadness.
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