Besides gift carbon-based, warm-blooded, possessing fur and secreting milk… many mammals have 7 cervical vertebrae. That’s right, through the exception of sloths and also manatees, native every giraffe come every mouse… us all have 7 cervical vertebrae. Most mammals who develop a different variety of neck vertebrae usually result in stillbirth, because of a crushed/ extended spinal cord and also altered blood vessels providing the brain.Birds, reptiles, and amphibians have actually a varying variety of vertebrae in their necks.

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The evolution, or epigenesis, of the elongated giraffe neck, is interesting. Obviously over there is benefit in the capability to outcompete shorter-neck herbivores for high hanging vegetation. Amongst giraffes themselves, a much longer neck favors the male’s prominence in fighting for mating. A newer theory even says that a giraffe’s neck may aid them manage their body temperature in hot African climates by enhancing their body surface ar area to allow heat come escape. They likewise are a “cylindrical animal”, so they can turn their “flat” sides far from the direct equator sunlight to mitigate the amount of warm on your skin.

But exactly how did the giraffe construct the lengthy neck? The prior concept that giraffes “grew” come have large necks by “stretching” towards branches on tree is Darwinian yet incorrect. Ancestral giraffes most likely started v a much longer neck than various other mammals, and also this most likely predated giraffes completely.

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

The okapi (short-necked) forked in a different direction ~ above the family tree around 5 million years earlier from the Giraffa camelopardalis (long-necked afri giraffe caged in the standard American zoo). The C4-C6 vertebrae are relatively similar in length between all giraffe species. It seems it to be the C2, C3, C7 and T1 bones wherein the juicy phylogenesis occurred.

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

The mix of these bony changes enables the 7 cervical vertebrae in giraffes to be as lengthy as the entire human body.

At some allude 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 giraffes? we both have actually 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 the end the gallery below for some an ext pictures!



Author:Dr. Adam Smith

Adam P. Smith, MD, FAANS is a plank certified neurosurgeon and also Rocky Mountain brain & Spine academy is his service providing neurosurgical details to the community. He is committed to the health of the patients he treats. Dr. Smith uses minimally invasive surgical approaches for the mind and spine, and uses the many up-to-date neuroimaging, surgical navigation, robotic and also artificial intelligence modalities.