While I was pursuing Veterinary Medicine, when I came across some animals I had always wondered, how nature is so wonderful in creating different life forms. Some are magnificent and some are unusual....
One such creature which has always fascinated me is the great and graceful Giraffe. Giraffe is one of the largest, strongest and most peaceful animals on Earth.
Adult giraffe is commonly in the range from 14 – 18 feet,  the  heart lies approximately midway between its head and its feet, that, it is usually seven feet or more below its brain. What happens when a giraffe bends its neck down to drink?  The pressure within the blood vessels of the brain and the eyes should then be higher than that at the level of the heart.
Why does the high pressure not rupture those delicate vessels of the brain or at least force leakage from them? 
How does the giraffe avoid the development of oedema in its long legs?
How does the giraffe get enough air into the lungs through a far away small nose?
A giraffe's heart is 24 pounds in weight and 2 feet in length. Giraffe's blood  chemistry is not grossly different from that of human blood, and so it is unlikely that its composition makes it unusually resistant to pass through the blood-vessel walls. Then How ?
Though the walls of the arteries and of the heart itself are thicker than they are in other mammals, this would not, however, prevent leakage through the walls of the finer blood vessels in the event of a large difference in pressure between one side of the wall and the other.
The giraffe’s carotid arteries posses an interesting special feature.  Before entering the brain each  of these arteries apparently divides into a  network of fine vessels that serves as a counter current.
The principle factor preventing  oedema below the heart level seems to be high extra vascular pressure counter-acting the high pressure within the blood vessels.
The trachea in the giraffe’s long neck may be more than five feet long and two or more inches in diameter, there would be a dead space before enough air reaches the lungs  The giraffe solves this problem by HYPERVENTILATION  breathing more deeply and more rapidly than man.
Giraffes  respiration rate are of more than 20 breaths per minute, whereas the man’s are 12 to 15.  In contrast to man and other mammals, the giraffe spends more time in inhalation than in exhalation.
•       Kenya has a giraffe population of 45,000, the highest in the world and nearly one-third of all the world's giraffes.
•        An adult male giraffe is called a bull, a female is called a cow and a young giraffe a calf & A group of giraffes constitute a herd. Giraffes are social animals that live in open herds.
•        As is the case with other mammals, the giraffe's neck contains only 7 vertebrae. Anchor muscles on the giraffe's shoulders, however, help to prop up the neck. Even though the giraffe has a long neck, the giraffe's head cannot reach the ground without help. Hence to drink water, a giraffe has to bend its front legs.
•         A giraffe is one of the animals that is born with a horn.
•        Each giraffe has a unique coat pattern.  A giraffe's age can be calculated from its spots, as the darker the spots, the older the giraffe.  There are a total of 9 giraffe species. These are distinguishable by the spots on their coats.
•       Giraffes are ruminants with 4-chamber stomachs. A large male giraffe can eat up to 100 pounds of food in a single day.
•        The tongue of an adult giraffe measures 27", through which they clean their ears & grasp leaves of the baobab tree They have antiseptic saliva which helps thorn-inflicted wounds on the tongue to heal fast, as theirs favorite food is the thorny acacia tree.
 •        Every step a giraffe takes is 15 feet in length.
•       The average life span of a giraffe is 20 to 25 years. A giraffe seldom lies down, it can sleep as well as give birth standing up and sleep for no more than 5 to 30 minutes in 24 hours.
•        Lions and large packs of hyenas, are the giraffe's enemies, but their kick is so strong that can decapitate the head and kill a lion.
•       Giraffes are silent animals, but, they are certainly not mute. They sound like the bleating of calves, and the bellowing of cows.
•        Giraffes can survive for long periods without consuming water.
•        Giraffes are blessed with excellent eyesight. This helps them keep an eye on each other from a distance.
•        Male giraffes engage in "necking" duels to establish dominance amongst peers.
•     Newborn giraffe calves begin their lives by falling 6 feet to the ground and their maternal instinct is outstanding. Read More: HERE.

The giraffe is a fascinating anomaly of nature.  Scientists have learned much from unusual kidneys in primitive fish,  the urine concentrating ability of desert rats for water conservation, to the electrocardiograms of whales and  heart failure in cattle at high altitudes.  The GIRAFFE  too, is as odd an animal as any in man’s eyes.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this...thank you!

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