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14 fascinating facts about giraffe:
- There are four distinct species of giraffe: Northern giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, Southern giraffe giraffa, Reticulated giraffe G. reticulata and Masai giraffe G. tippelskirchi.
- Giraffe are already extinct in at least seven countries in Africa.
- Just like human fingerprints, no two giraffe have the same coat pattern.
- Giraffe feet are the size of a dinner plate with a diameter of 30 cm.
- Giraffe tongues are bluish-purple and between 45 and 50 cm long.
- Both male and female giraffe have horns already at birth. These ossicones lie flat and are not attached to the skull to avoid injury at birth. They only fuse with the skull later in life.
- The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world. Even newborn giraffe are taller than most humans.
- Female giraffe give birth standing up. Their young fall about 2 m to the ground and can stand up within an hour of birth.
- In some populations, over 50% of all giraffe calves do not survive their first year.
- A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. To drink, giraffe first have to splay their forelegs and/or bend their knees, and only then can they lower their necks to reach the surface of the water.
- Giraffe only drink once every few days. Even when water is readily available, evidence shows that many giraffe do not drink regularly – sometimes not at all.
- To protect the giraffe’s brain from sudden changes in blood pressure when it drinks, the jugular veins have incredibly elastic walls and large one-way valves that allow the veins to expand significantly and prevent the blood from flowing back to the brain when the giraffe’s head is lowered.
- Alternatively, to help fight gravity when blood returns to the heart from a giraffe’s feet, their blood vessels are thickly walled and muscled, and the skin on the legs is so tight it acts like giant compression socks. These unique adaptations have been studied by scientists at NASA to get inspiration for human space suits.
- A giraffe heart weighs approximately 11 kilograms (almost 25 pounds) with an average resting heart rate of 40-90 beats per minute. While people thought that the giraffe had a larger heart compared to other mammals to pump blood around its body, this is not true. Rather the giraffe’s heart has a thicker muscle on the left side (ventricle) of the heart so it can generate enough force to fight gravity.
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