giraffe


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giraffe,

African ruminant mammal, genus Giraffa, living in open savanna S of the Sahara. Giraffes have historically been considered to be one species, G. camelopardalis, with a number of subspecies, but DNA study now suggests that there are in fact four giraffe species, the southern giraffe, the Masai giraffe, the reticulated giraffe, and the northern giraffe, and that the southern and northern giraffes have subspecies. The tallest of animals, giraffes browse in treetops at heights inaccessible to other leaf-eaters. A male may be 18 ft (5.5 m) from hoof to crown. The neck, which is up to 7 ft (2.1 m) long, has only seven vertebrae, the usual number in mammals, but each is very elongated. The legs are also long and end in large hooves; the body is relatively short. The short hornlike ossicones are formed of ossified cartilage and covered with skin and hair. Giraffes have large, sandy to chestnut, angular spots closely spaced on a lighter background. They feed chiefly on leaves of acacia and mimosa, using their extensible tongues and mobile lips to secure food. Giraffes travel in small herds whose membership typically readily changes; females can form long-lasting relationship with each other. They can outrun most of their enemies and have been known to kill lions with a kick. They are most vulnerable when spreading their forelegs and lowering their heads to drink; however, they can do without water for long intervals. They are among the very few mammals that cannot swim at all. Females bear a single calf, which is about 6 ft (180 cm) tall at birth. The only other member of the giraffe family is the okapiokapi
, nocturnal ruminant mammal, Okapia johnstoni, of the giraffe family. It inhabits the almost sunless rain forests of the upper Congo and feeds on leaves. Its shape is reminiscent of a giraffe's, but it is smaller, with a much shorter neck.
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. Giraffes are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Giraffidae.

giraffe

[jə′raf]
(vertebrate zoology)
Giraffa camelopardalis. An artiodactyl mammal in the family Giraffidae characterized by extreme elongation of the neck vertebrae, and two prominent horns on the head.

Giraffe

[jə′raf]
(astronomy)

giraffe

tallest of animals. [Zoology: NCE, 1088]

giraffe

a large ruminant mammal, Giraffa camelopardalis, inhabiting savannas of tropical Africa: the tallest mammal, with very long legs and neck and a colouring of regular reddish-brown patches on a beige ground: family Giraffidae
References in periodicals archive ?
Keepers have spread 40 tonnes of gravel across the 40-acre site, adding it to the giraffe and reindeer paddock as well as down on the farm.
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This baby giraffe was born at Chester earlier this year
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The male giraffe calf, named Gus, was born on Thursday evening to eight-year-old mother Genny.
The calf was named "Tajiri" by Alyssa Swilley, giraffe keeper at the park and she was given the opportunity to do so based on a vote that included the option "Alyssa's choice.
The giraffe has spent her first days with her parents at the North Yorkshire park, which used to sponsor Boro.
Any one who is interested in giraffes and wants to know what kind of efforts are being made to prevent their extinction will greatly appreciate this book.
Scientists say that giraffe numbers have declined in seven countries--Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.
Joy especially likes the loving look of Baby Giraffe towards Mommy Giraffe.
Specific details such as the discovery that giraffes are social creatures that are able to communicate via infrasound (vocal noises that can travel long distances but are so low that they cannot be heard by humans) help to connect the reader to each individual giraffe.