Besides gift carbon-based, warm-blooded, own fur and also secreting milk… many mammals have 7 cervical vertebrae. It is right, with the exemption of sloths and manatees, indigenous every giraffe to every mouse… we all have actually 7 cervical vertebrae. Many mammals who develop a different number of neck vertebrae usually an outcome in stillbirth, as result of a crushed/ extended spinal cord and also altered blood vessels offering the brain.Birds, reptiles, and also amphibians have actually a varying variety of vertebrae in your 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 because that high hanging vegetation. Amongst giraffes themselves, a longer neck favors the male’s prominence in fighting for mating. A newer theory even suggests that a giraffe’s neck may aid them regulate their body temperature in warm African climates by raising their body surface area to permit heat to escape. They likewise are a “cylindrical animal”, for this reason they have the right to turn their “flat” sides far from the straight equator sunlight to alleviate the quantity of warm on your skin.

But exactly how did the giraffe construct the lengthy neck? The prior theory that giraffes “grew” come have huge necks through “stretching” in the direction of branches on tree is Darwinian yet incorrect. Ancestral giraffes most likely started with a much longer neck than various other mammals, and also this probably predated giraffes completely.

However, it ongoing to adjust size through different Giraffidae subspecies, causing the african okapi and giraffe we know today.

The okapi (short-necked) forked in a various direction top top the family tree about 5 million years earlier from the Giraffa camelopardalis (long-necked afri giraffe caged in the conventional American zoo). The C4-C6 vertebrae are fairly similar in length in between all giraffe species. It appears it was the C2, C3, C7 and T1 bones wherein the juicy phylogenesis occurred.

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

The combination of this bony changes permits the 7 cervical vertebrae in giraffes to be as lengthy as the entire human body.

At some point giraffes also developed your elongated legs follow me a parallel evolution track.

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What’s another common anatomic feature between humans and also giraffes? we both have 32 teeth, although giraffes have actually no top front teeth. I guess that provides them much more evolutionarily concerned those native Kentucky and West Virginia? (Just kidding)

Check out the gallery below for some more pictures!



Author:Dr. Adam Smith

Adam P. Smith, MD, FAANS is a board certified neurosurgeon and Rocky Mountain brain & Spine academy is his organization providing neurosurgical info to the community. He is committed to the well-being of the patient he treats. Dr. Smith offers minimally invasive surgical philosophies for the brain and spine, and uses the many up-to-date neuroimaging, surgical navigation, robotic and artificial intelligence modalities.