This past week has rocked the world of zoology. what we once thought was an unequivocal record of the tallest animal held by the towering creature that is the giraffe has now been proven wrong. There is in fact, a four-way tie for the world’s tallest animal. It turns out that we have been living under false pretenses since the beginning of mankind. A recent study by Dr. Axel Janke, a geneticist at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, has proven that there are four different species of giraffes instead of the long-established belief that the giraffe was a solitary species.
According to an article from the BBC commenting on Dr. Janke’s work, these four different species of giraffes have not exchanged genetic material or cross-bred in the last 2 million years. Janke has described the difference between the different groups of Giraffes as the difference between polar bears and brown bears due to the discrepancies in DNA. The four different species of giraffes, the Northern, Southern, Masai giraffe and the Reticulated giraffes, according to Nature, the differences between them most likely come from geographic separation probably due to rivers and geographic obstacles. This discovery, however exciting it for a record to be disproven is more important for conservational reasons.
The reason that this is so important is that even though we have known that giraffe populations have dropped in recent time giraffes have not received as much attention as other African Animals such as the elephant and rhinoceros according to McClatchy DC News. This new information will allow conservationists to concentrate their efforts. Before this discovery giraffes were listed as of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This discovery will allow researchers to see how each species is fairing to help set up conservation strategies.
Fennessy, J. & Brown, D. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T9194A12968471.Downloaded on 12 September 2016.
Gill, Victoria. “Giraffe Genetic Secret: Four Species of Tallest Mammal Identified.” BBC News. N.p., 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37311716>
Welshtwelsh@mcclatchy.com, By Teresa. “Giraffes May Be Endangered, New Discovery Reveals.” Mcclatchydc. N.p., 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article100633327.html>
Woolston, Chris. “DNA Reveals That Giraffes Are Four Species — Not One.”Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.nature.com/news/dna-reveals-that-giraffes-are-four-species-not-one-1.20567>