What Caused Giraffes to Develop Long Necks?
Giraffes’ long necks are often cited as classic examples of how adaptation has led to better health and well-being in animals. Long necks developed to allow them to reach food that was previously out of reach for other animals. According to new research, intense head-butting competition may have led to the extremely long necks found in modern giraffes because of their toughened skulls.
From the early Miocene era: Discokeryx xiezhi (Junggar Basin)
A new species of ancient giraffe has been discovered in China’s northwestern Junggar Basin by a team led by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region). An analysis of an almost complete skull and four cervical vertebrae suggests that Discokeryx xiezhi was not a long-necked herbivore but had a neck and head adapted to withstand the enormous stresses of head-butting combat.
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According to a study published in Science, the neck bones of Discokeryx xiezhi were extremely thick, with the most complex joints in any mammal between the head and the neck. The researchers found that Discokeryx xiezhi’s skull and cervical vertebrae were well-suited to high-velocity head-to-head collisions. Extant animals with head-butting intraspecific combat adaptations, such as musk oxen, were found to be far less effective than this structure. Scientists speculate that D. xiezhi was the vertebrate with the best head impact adaptations that has ever been discovered.
the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shi-qi Wang is the study’s lead author.
“Discokeryx xiezhi and living giraffes are both members of the Giraffoidea, a genus. Although their skull and neck morphologies are vastly different, both are associated with male courtship struggles and have evolved in an extreme direction
Changes in Morphological Patterns Caused by Climate Change
In the study of fossil teeth, it was discovered through isotope analysis that Discokeryx lived in a desert-like grassland environment. Because the habitat was more sparse and devoid of resources than those found in forests. Animals may have been subjected to greater stress and competition for scarce resources. About 7 million years ago, the East African Plateau had a similar climate. Before savannah replaced the region’s forests as the dominant landscape type. Male giraffes’ direct ancestors may have developed a method of attacking their rivals. By swinging their necks and heads during this time period. The giraffe’s rapid neck lengthening over the course of two million years. Aided by sexual selection, led to the emergence of the extant genus, Giraffa.
Around 17 million years ago, the Junggar Basin was home to an abundance of large vertebrates. It is possible that the loss of forest habitat led to the evolution of more specific heads and necks. Which in turn led to the extraordinarily long necks that are now associated with extant giraffe species.
Compare the Morphology of Horns
Several species of cattle, sheep, deer, and pronghorns had their horns compared by the research team. There was a high degree of variation in the morphology of giraffe horns. With a tendency toward extreme differences in the horns themselves. A more intense and diverse range of intraspecific combat may be more characteristic of giraffes’ courtship fights than other ruminants.
The total number of headgears that various pecoran species have accumulated over time. Because of their various fighting styles. It’s possible that giraffomorphs developed a wider variety of headgear than the other pecoran tribes.
According to the study’s findings, giraffes’ extreme body shapes were not primarily influenced by the ability to access parts of the canopy. That other herbivores could not, but rather by intense sexual competition.
Media released from the Chinese Academy of Sciences helped Everything Dinosaur compile this article.
In the journal Science, a study by Shi-qi Wang, Jie Ye, Jin Meng, Chunxiao Li, Loic Costeur, Bastien Mennecart et al. found. That “Sexual selection promotes giraffoid head-neck evolution and ecological adaptation,” as well as other authors.
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