Several remarkable photos of giraffes

The following show the pedal flag in Giraffa tippelskirchi more clearly than the mother plus three juveniles of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in the foreground, the spotted coats of which virtually hide them in plain sight. This photo illustrates a) the analogy between giraffes and big cats in inconspicuous colouration, b) the exceptional body size of giraffes as camouflaged megafauna, and c) the phenomenon of flagging in otherwise inconspicuous animals. The pedal flag of this species of giraffe is easy enough to spot once one has a search-image, but note that the cheetah too has flags: the white-and-black tail-tip (a caudal flag) and the dark back-of-ear (an auricular flag). The genitalia and horns show all of these individuals of G. tippelskirchi to be males, ranging from juvenile to adult. Body mass is about 45 kg for the adult female cheetah and about 500-1000 kg for these individuals of G. tippelskirchi.

At first sight the following seem to be just another pair of photos of giraffes drinking. However, there is no water visible, because this is actually geophagy (earth-eating). Giraffes, like various other ruminants, sometimes supplement micronutrients by eating earth directly.

Two of the species of giraffes coexist with the eland (Taurotragus oryx), mature males of which are the most massive of antelopes. The following hint that giraffes are not only taller than the eland, but also more massive.

Giraffes are among the more sexually dimorphic of ungulates. However, the sexes remain rather difficult to tell when seen by themselves, because mature males retain approximately the same proportions as adult females and differ mainly in sheer size. The following is useful in showing them together in a way that reveals the difference in heights at the withers. In the first photo the male is adult but not fully mature.

The following illustrates the fact that females of giraffes usually forage with the neck not upright but horizontal. Whereas giraffes are thought of as having evolved to reach the treetops (and this is indeed true for mature males), a major adaptive advantage of the length of the neck is a lateral application of reach: across tangled or spinescent vegetation maintained at a convenient height by repeated pruning.

Lähettänyt milewski milewski, 26. marraskuuta 2021 07:03


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