Friday, July 27, 2012

Why do Giraffes have a Long Neck?

            Giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world, but one mystery, which baffles scientist, is how it got its long neck. A famous French zoologist jean Baptist de Lamarck proposed a theory that at one time giraffe’s neck was much shorter than what it is now. It had to raise its neck to eat the leaves of the trees. According to Lamarck, the part of the body, which is used most, develops most. The giraffe had to raise its neck time and again to reach the upper branches of trees when the leaves on lower branches of trees when the leaves on lower branches were eaten away. The excessive use of the neck resulted in its gradual increase. The successive generations of the giraffe started having longer necks and finally today’s long-necked giraffe emerged. The male giraffes grow up to height of 5.5 meters and weigh more than 1,000 kilograms. It is herbivore ad chews its food I spare time. The formation of giraffe’s body is such that its mouth can easily reach the leaves of high trees. Its tongue is about 45 centimeters long and constructed in such a way that it can eat even the leaves of thorny plants. It has a long upper lip that helps it wrench off many leaves at a time.


            The color of giraffes resembles the shadow of the trees and as such it cannot be easily spotted by its enemies. It is usually yellowish-brown in color and has highly sensitive ears.

            The giraffe’s ears can pick the faintest sounds, but it is nearly incapable of uttering sounds. The word nearly has been used because some of the female giraffes and their young do have been found mooing like cow or ox in the zoological parks but most of them do not utter sound. The reason for this inability lies in the underdevelopment of its voice box or larynx. Probably due to this reason, it has a keen sense of smell and sight. If attacked, it can run at a speed of 45 kilometers per hour for an extended period of time without getting tired. As far as fast running is concerned, it can bet even the fastest of horses. When some other animal attacks it, it retaliates with the help f its head and hind legs. As its eyes are far above the ground, it can easily see predators long before they can get close enough to attack. That is why even the lion has to be very cautious while attacking a giraffe. Lions always attack it form behind because giraffes strike with its head like a hammer.