Besides being carbon-based, warm-blooded, own fur and also secreting milk… most mammals have actually 7 cervical vertebrae. It is right, v the exception of sloths and manatees, native every giraffe to every mouse… us all have 7 cervical vertebrae. Many mammals who construct a different variety of neck vertebrae usually an outcome in stillbirth, due to a crushed/ extended spinal cord and also altered blood vessels providing the brain.Birds, reptiles, and amphibians have a varying variety of vertebrae in your necks.

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The evolution, or epigenesis, that the elongated giraffe neck, is interesting. Obviously over there is advantage in the ability to outcompete shorter-neck herbivores because that high hanging vegetation. Among giraffes themselves, a much longer neck favors the male’s dominance in fighting because that mating. A more recent theory even suggests that a giraffe’s neck may assist them regulate their human body temperature in hot African climates by boosting their body surface area to permit heat come escape. They likewise are a “cylindrical animal”, so they can turn their “flat” sides far from the direct equator sunshine to minimize the quantity of warmth on their skin.

But exactly how did the giraffe develop the long neck? The prior theory that giraffes “grew” to have large necks through “stretching” towards branches on tree is Darwinian yet incorrect. Ancestral giraffes most likely started through a longer neck than various other mammals, and also this more than likely predated giraffes completely.

However, it continued to change size through various Giraffidae subspecies, causing the afri okapi and also giraffe we recognize today.

The okapi (short-necked) forked in a different direction ~ above the household tree about 5 million years ago from the Giraffa camelopardalis (long-necked african giraffe caged in the typical American zoo). The C4-C6 vertebrae are reasonably similar in length between all giraffe species. It appears it was the C2, C3, C7 and T1 bones whereby the juicy phylogenesis occurred.

The very first step was actually an elongated skull. Next, the C2 and also C3 vertebral bodies came to be slender about 7 million years ago. After ~ this, the spinous processes ended up being high, thick, and also vertically inclined about 1 million years ago. The giraffe C7 then elongated and also incorporated a distinct blood vessel (vertebral artery) that provides the brain, but enters greater in the C6 bone in humans and also other mammals. Lastly, the T1 that a giraffe became “cervicalized”, where T1 is usually much more a part of the thoracic spine in other mammals. (This suggest actually inserts some debate regarding whether giraffes have an extra vertebra…)

The mix of this bony changes allows the 7 cervical vertebrae in giraffes to be as long as the whole human body.

At some suggest giraffes likewise developed their elongated legs along a parallel evolution track.

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What’s an additional common anatomic feature in between humans and giraffes? us both have 32 teeth, although giraffes have no upper front teeth. Ns guess that makes them more evolutionarily pertained to those native Kentucky and West Virginia? (Just kidding)

Check out the gallery listed below for some an ext pictures!



Author:Dr. Adam Smith

Adam P. Smith, MD, FAANS is a plank certified neurosurgeon and also Rocky Mountain brain & Spine institute is his organization providing neurosurgical information to the community. The is committed to the health of the patient he treats. Dr. Smith uses minimally invasive surgical philosophies for the mind and spine, and also uses the most up-to-date neuroimaging, operation navigation, robotic and artificial intelligence modalities.