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9 Giraffe facts!

8 April 2022

9 unusual facts about giraffes that may astound you!

It’s safe to say Giraffes are some of the most astonishing creatures on the planet, these African giants are the tallest land mammal on the planet and have evolved over 15 million years, from antelope-like animals. Gradually natural selection favoured antelope with longer necks as they were more likely to reach nutritious vegetation higher up, during times of greater competition between species.

The Giraffe species we know today turned up around 1 million years ago. You may look at a Giraffe’s neck and think what an amazing evolutionary adaptation it is, you’d be right, but that’s not the only thing that’s fascinating about them!

1. NASA drew inspiration from baby Giraffes

Weightlessness has always been a problem in outer space, humans are not very well adapted to the lack of gravity and this plays havoc with Astronauts circulatory system. When astronauts have a lengthy stay in space, their leg veins get weaker, due to the fact that the circulatory system of the legs don’t have to work as hard to pump the blood back up the body. This means astronauts veins get lazy and weak, causing quite a few problems when they return back to Earth!

NASA circumvented this problem by studying baby giraffes, baby giraffes learn how to stand immediately after being born, due to their rapidly inflating leg veins! NASA took this incredible natural adaptation and applied it to create the Lower Body Negative Pressure Process. This device seals around the astronauts waist and applies vacuum pressure, rapidly expanding the leg veins and making blood rush into the legs and pelvic area. When this pressure is applied regularly, the astronaut’s leg veins remain as strong as they would on Earth!

2. No need for sun cream!

Due to the fact Giraffes tongues are out so frequently, grazing on vegetation, they have evolved a blueish/black colour, ensuring they don’t burn under the African sun!

3. Or hands

Giraffes tongues are up to 20 inches long, it is also prehensile meaning it can grasp things like vegetation!

 

4. Weird mouths

You’d think the strangeness would end with their tongue, you’d be wrong. The inside of a Giraffes mouth is covered with hard, finger-like papillae, protecting the Giraffe from thorny foliage.

5. Spot the difference

Just like human fingerprints no two Giraffe’s have the same spot pattern.

6. Birthing with a bump

Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up, they even give birth standing up, with calves falling up to 6 feet to the floor. Ouch!

 

7. Light sleepers

Giraffes don’t need much sleep to function, typically only getting between 20 minutes and 2 hours of sleep a day!

8. Catch me if you can

Giraffes can run at speeds of up to 35mph over short distances!

9. The trade off

Having a long neck can have its advantages, but it can also be disadvantageous as well! Giraffe’s necks are too short to reach the ground, resulting in them having to awkwardly spread their legs or kneel to reach the ground for water, this can leave them vulnerable to predators.

Click here to find out more about the incredible Giraffes here at the park!

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