Friday, May 15, 2009

Giraffe evolution

1926. Washington, D.C. Photographing the photographing of giraffes at the National Zoo.
I've wanted this vintage photo in my Cabinet, and now it is warranted: Yesterday it was reported that researchers have ruled out one of the possible reasons why giraffes evolved long necks. It was not so that the males with the longest necks would have the advantage when "head clubbing" their rivals over the affections of female giraffes. Which narrows down the theories:
  1. That giraffes evolved longer legs to run away from predators and needed an equally long neck to reach the ground to drink.
  2. That the neck confers a feeding advantage, allowing the giraffe to reach leaves beyond more numerous smaller browsers such as gazelles or antelope.
You would assume the second hypothesis makes more sense, but in fact giraffes tend to prefer particular types of leaves rather than leaves at particular heights.

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