Why giraffes have spots? Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

Why do giraffes have spots?

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Have you ever wondered why giraffes have spots?

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world. Their special feature is their long necks, which make it easier to harvest leaves on the highest branches.

Their little heads are decorated with a small brown horns, and their magnificent bodies are covered with spots.

Scientists already knew that these are unique, and do not change with age.

What they were meant for remained a mystery.

A recent group of researchers just discovered why giraffes have spots.

Derek E. Lee, the head of the group, told the News-o-Matic, an American newsapp for children, why he was so interested in giraffes: »I am also very tall, and that’s why these animals are close to me. Moreover, they are cool.«

He added that they are at extreme risk, and we should thus find out as much about them as we can.

Scientists studied spots on 31 pairs of giraffes. Each pair included a mother and her child. They focused on the size, shape, color and some other features of the spots. They found that the children inherited certain patterns.

Two hundred and fift-eight young giraffes were also studied for four years.

The scientists thus learned that spots have an important role to play, helping the young ones to hide from predators and thus survive. Those who had bigger and more varied spots found it easier to survive.

That giraffes’ spots most probably inherited was discovered fifty years ago by the Canadian scientist Anne Innis Dagg.

But she only watched a small group of giraffes in a zoo.

Derek E. Lee observed a much larger group of giraffes, in the wild – near the city of Arusha in Tanzania.

 

Points to Consider

  • Why did scientists take so long to confirm the theory of their Canadian collegue?
  • What else would you like to know about giraffes?
  • What about other animals?

***

The original version of this article was published on October 15th.

English translation courtesy of JL Flanner, Total Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.

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Sonja • 20. 10. 2018


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