Monday, March 25, 2013

Giraffe Facts!

I got these out of this month's Mental Floss magazine. Interesting!

The nine giraffe subspecies - and individual animals - can be distinguished by their unique coat patterns, which break up their shape as camouflage but also help them to identify one another.

At full tilt, a giraffe can reach 37 mph.

Giraffe hooves are lethal weapons. The animals' kicks are strong enough to kill lions, their main predator.

Giraffes have just two gears, and they swing differently at each one. When walking, they move the front and back legs of one side together and then the other. When galloping, they bunny hop, moving their back legs together and then the front ones.

Giraffes can close their nostrils at will, which is good because their hair secretes a stinky mix of bacteria- and parasite-repelling compounds that can be smelled from up to 800 feet away.

A giraffe's 20-inch black tongue and prehensile lips are covered in small hard bumps called papillae that protect it as it eats from thorny acacia trees.

Despite their impressive length, giraffe's necks have exactly seven vertabrae, the same as most other  mammals; their vertabrae are just exceptionally long (each is 11 inches compared with about half an inch for humans).

The giraffe's laryngeal nerve runs from the brain down the neck to the heart and then back up to the larynx; at 15 feet, it's the longest nerve in the animal kingdom.

The giraffe's circulatory system is adapted - by way of a 25-pound heart and one-way valves - to pump blood up the neck when the head is up and keep it from rushing down when the head is lowered. Scientists have to be mindful of this when chasing down giraffes for study. Because of their high blood pressure, giraffes are prone to heart attacks.

People used to think that giraffes were mute, but they actually communicate infrasonically (via very low tones that are undetectable to the human ear).

1 comment:

SidneyKay said...

Did you know Siberian tigers have little white spots on the back of their ears?