The giraffe “Giraffa camelopardalis” is one of the tallest and largest ruminants living on land among the non-extinct creatures. The couple living in Africa is a hoofed mammal. The scientific species name is given after its camel-like shape and leopard-like spots. Its main distinguishing features are its rather long neck and legs, horns covered with furry skin, and black and brown spots on a white-cream skin. Along with its closest living relative, okapi, giraffes are classified in the “Giraffidae” family and have nine subspecies distinguished by the color and shape of their skin and spots.
Giraffes in Africa, Chad in the north and South Africa in the south; They live in the area between Niger in the west and Somalia in the east. South Africa and North Africa are the most common regions. They generally live in savannah grasslands and open forests. The main food sources are the leaves of the Acacia tree, which they eat at heights beyond the reach of other mammals. Giraffes are hunted by lions, and juvenile giraffes are prey to leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs. Giraffes are collective animals and form large herds. Men maintain social hierarchy through fights using their necks. Dominant males qualify to mate with females. Only females are responsible for caring for the offspring. And Zurafas are very tall.
Due to their strange appearance, giraffes have attracted the attention of many cultures, both ancient and modern, and have been the subject of many paintings, books and comics. Although classified as species of minimum concern by the World Association for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, it is locally extinct in some places to the former distribution area, and all three subspecies are on the endangered species list. Still, giraffes are common in numerous national parks and hunting grounds. These animals that fall into the hands of hunters are sad for human beings ..
Science and history;
The scientific name of the species, camelopardalis, comes from the Roman Empire. This name comes from camel and leopard features. Camelopard first appeared as an English word in the 14th century and was officially used in the 19th century. This figure has been recorded in several European languages. In Arabic, it is written as الزرافة and read as zurapha, meaning (Community) in “Animals” or simply long. In Italian, it is called giraffa.
Giraffe is classified under the ruminant suborder. A large number of ruminant species have been identified in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America with fossils dating from the mid-Eocene period. Ecological conditions during this period may have facilitated the rapid distribution of these species. The giraffe, along with the okapi, are the last two living members of the Giraffidae family. There are extinct genera in this family identified by more than 10 fossils. The closest known relatives are deer-like extinct animals belonging to the Climacoceratidae family. Along with the Antilocapridae family, the only living member of which is the American antelope, the other two families are classified in the superfamily Giraffoidea. It is highly probable that these animals evolved from the extinct Palaeomerycidae family, which is also the ancestor of the deer.
Africa and its natural life;
Lengthening of the neck appears to have started in the early stages of the giraffe lineage. Comparisons between giraffes and their ancient ancestors show that first the vertebrae close to the skull are elongated, later the elongation is in the lower vertebrae. One of the giraffe-like animals is the genus Canthumeryx, whose remains are believed to have lived 25 to 20 million years, 17 to 15 million years, or 18 to 14.3 million years ago, according to various studies. This medium-sized animal has a slender and antelope-like build. The genus Giraffokeryx, which originated in the Indian subcontinent 15 million years ago, resembles the okapi, or small giraffe, with an elongated neck and horns seen in giraffes. Giraffokeryx may have been in the same class as the larger giraffe-like animals of the Sivatherium and Bramatherium genera.
Giraffe-like animals such as Palaeotragus, Shansitherium, and Samotherium emerged about 14 million years ago and lived throughout Africa and Eurasia. The skulls of these animals are wider, their necks are longer, the sinus cavities in the skull are small, and their horns are vague. It is similar to the paleotragus okapi and may be its ancestor.
History and fossil history;
According to some scientists, the okapi lineage was separated before the Giraffokeryx genus. Samotherium, whose cervical vertebrae are between okapi and modern giraffes in terms of size and structure, is especially important as an intermediate period fossil.
The genus Bohlinia, which originated in southeastern Europe and lived 9 to 7 million years ago, is probably the direct ancestor of the giraffe. The Bohlinia genus, which has a long neck and legs and has similar teeth and horns, is very similar to modern giraffes.
Giraffe and countries;
Bohlinia entered China and northern India due to climate change. Here the Giraffa genus evolved and entered Africa about 7 million years ago. Subsequent climatic changes caused the extinction of Asian giraffes, while those found in Africa continued to live and split into new species.
Camelopardalis originated in eastern Africa about a million years ago during the Ice Age. Some biologists suggest that the modern giraffe is descended from the jumae species, while others argue that the gracilis species is the more likely direct ancestor.
Jumae has a larger and bulky structure, while G. gracilis is smaller and more elegant. It is believed that the main driving force in the evolution of giraffes is the transition from dense forests to more open habitats that started about 8 million years ago.
Some researchers have put forward the hypothesis that with this new habitat change, different foods, including acacia species, underwent faster mutation and rapid evolution as the ancestors of the giraffe were exposed to the new toxins. The emergence of different skin patterns seen in modern giraffes is also likely to coincide with these habitat changes. It is assumed that Asian giraffes have more okapi-like colors and patterns.