Giraffes Shelby Snowden

The scientific name for giraffes is Giraffa camelopardalis. They were given that name because people thought they looked like a camel with a leopard’s spots. Like human fingerprints, each giraffe has a unique spot pattern.

Giraffes are born with ossicones that are made of cartilage and are not attached to the skull. The ossicones are ossified and grow into the skull later in life. Ossicones are used by male giraffes for fighting, but they may also have a role in thermoregulation.

Giraffes have elastic blood vessels and valves that keep blood from rushing to their head when they bend down or swing their head. A giraffe’s heart has to generate about double the blood pressure of other large mammals in order to get blood up to the giraffe’s head against the force of gravity. Giraffes have extra thick, tight skin on their legs to protect against high blood pressure on leg blood vessels.

Although they have adaptations that allow them to bend down, it is not easy for them and makes them vulnerable to predation, so giraffes only bend down to drink water every few days. They get almost all of the water they need from the plants they eat. Giraffes can also raise their body temperature with the heat of the environment so that they can conserve water by not sweating.

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