The anatomy, especially the skeletal system of a giraffe’s body, is the most studied part by experts. This is due to its unique physiological set up. Giraffe is the tallest animal in the world, and likewise, its skeletal structure is proportionately developed to support the entire body. The most striking part of a giraffe’s body is its neck, which alone is about 2 meters in length. So most experts study it, curious to know what it is composed of and how does it remain balanced with the rest of the body.
The extraordinary length of a giraffe’s neck is due to the cervical vertebrae there being disproportionately long. Usually, other vertebrates are provided with more vertebrae in this case. In fact, the cervical vertebrae accounts for almost half the length of the whole vertebral column of a giraffe. Then, there is a thoracic vertebra. Uniquely enough, these two vertebrae are positioned in between the first two thoracic vertebrae, instead of in between C7 and the first vertebra, which is a common feature in most vertebrates. For this reason, the neck of the giraffe is as elongated, as the C7 contributes to it.
However, experts are divided in their opinion regarding the existence of T1 or the first thoracic vertebra. This is because they believe that T1 is really C8, or the last vertebra of the cervical one- acting as an extra member. In fact, there are two hypotheses centering on the physiological evolution of giraffe’s neck. One is that of Sir Charles Darwin named, “competing browser’s hypothesis”, and the other is the sexual selection hypothesis.
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