Besides being carbon-based, warm-blooded, possessing fur and also secreting milk… many mammals have 7 cervical vertebrae. That’s right, with the exception of sloths and manatees, from every giraffe come every mouse… we all have actually 7 cervical vertebrae. Many mammals who build a different variety of neck vertebrae usually an outcome in stillbirth, as result of a crushed/ stretched spinal cord and also altered blood vessels providing the brain.Birds, reptiles, and amphibians have a varying number of vertebrae in their necks.

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The evolution, or epigenesis, of the elongated giraffe neck, is interesting. Obviously there is benefit in the capability to outcompete shorter-neck herbivores because that high hanging vegetation. Amongst giraffes themselves, a longer neck favors the male’s prominence in fighting because that mating. A newer theory even says that a giraffe’s neck may aid them regulate their human body temperature in hot African climates by boosting their body surface ar area to permit heat to escape. They also are a “cylindrical animal”, for this reason they deserve to turn their “flat” sides away from the straight equator sunlight to alleviate the amount of warm on your skin.

But exactly how did the giraffe construct the lengthy neck? The prior concept that giraffes “grew” to have big necks by “stretching” in the direction of branches on trees is Darwinian but incorrect. Ancestral giraffes most likely started with a longer neck than other mammals, and also this most likely predated giraffes completely.

However, it continued to change size through various Giraffidae subspecies, leading to the afri okapi and also giraffe we recognize today.

The okapi (short-necked) forked in a different direction on the family members tree about 5 million years back from the Giraffa camelopardalis (long-necked african giraffe caged in the typical American zoo). The C4-C6 vertebrae are relatively similar in length between all giraffe species. It seems it was the C2, C3, C7 and T1 bones whereby the juicy phylogenesis occurred.

The very first step was actually an elongated skull. Next, the C2 and also C3 vertebral bodies came to be slender around 7 million years ago. After ~ this, the spinous processes came to be high, thick, and vertically inclined around 1 million year ago. The giraffe C7 then elongated and incorporated a special blood courage (vertebral artery) that provides the brain, yet enters higher in the C6 bone in humans and also other mammals. Lastly, the T1 the a giraffe came to be “cervicalized”, whereby T1 is usually an ext a component of the thoracic spine in various other mammals. (This allude actually inserts part debate as to whether giraffes have actually an extra vertebra…)

The combination of this bony changes enables the 7 cervical vertebrae in giraffes to it is in as long as the entire human body.

At some suggest giraffes additionally developed your elongated legs along a parallel evolutionary track.

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What’s an additional common anatomic feature between humans and also giraffes? us both have 32 teeth, return giraffes have actually no upper front teeth. Ns guess that renders them much more evolutionarily related to those native Kentucky and West Virginia? (Just kidding)

Check out the gallery listed below for some an ext pictures!



Author:Dr. Adam Smith

Adam P. Smith, MD, FAANS is a board certified neurosurgeon and also Rocky Mountain brain & Spine academy is his organization providing neurosurgical info to the community. That is cursed to the wellness of the patient he treats. Dr. Smith supplies minimally invasive surgical approaches for the mind and spine, and also uses the many up-to-date neuroimaging, surgical navigation, robotic and artificial knowledge modalities.