SEP 20, 2016 10:00 AM PDT

Genetic Analysis Reveals There Are Four Different Giraffe Species

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

For the most part, it can be agreed that all giraffes look the same right? They’ve all got that iconic long neck, but don’t be deceived!
 

It turns out there are at least four different distinct species of giraffe in the world.

 
According to a recent genetic study, the findings of which have been published in the journal Current Biology, which involved studying more than one-hundred skin biopsy samples, scientists just found out that there are actually four distinct different kinds of giraffe species, not only one.
 
It has always been thought that there was one main species, the giraffe itself, and then nine sub-species, but these new findings prove this isn’t the case.
 
Among the new species that have been named are the Northern Giraffe, Masai Giraffe, Southern Giraffe, and the West-African Giraffe. This could just be the tip of the iceberg, but it reveals how undiscovered new animal species can be hiding right under our noses.
 
These four distinct different giraffe species are reportedly different enough from one another that they don’t mate with one another in the wild, so what we have left of each species is all we’ve got.
 
Interestingly enough, two of the nine sub-species that we originally thought to exist, the Rothchild’s Giraffe and the Nubian Giraffe, are apparently genetically identical to one another. Say what? It turns out there was some kind of misidentification there.
 
The findings of the new giraffe species also bring forth some real concerns. As we didn’t know there were actually four distinct species of the animal, we now have to take into account just how many of each individual species still walk the Earth. Dwindling numbers may have an impact on which species need to be protected the most with conservation efforts.
 
“Now that we know that there are four giraffe species, it is even more important and urgent to support governments and other partners across Africa to protect giraffe,” said study lead author Dr. Julian Fennessy.
 
“We rightly worry about the fate of the African elephant, with an estimated 450,000 in the wild. By contrast, the numbers of three of the four giraffe species are rapidly declining, and two numbering <10,000 individuals in total. I think we should start working together to secure the future of giraffe in Africa and take action before it is too late.”
 
The genetic analysis from this study also brought forth more interesting information: what existed before the giraffe became the giraffe? According to the DNA, their most recent common ancestor would have walked the Earth around 0.4-2 million years ago before evolving into the current day giraffe.
 


How many other kinds of animals exist out there that we don't know about? There's no way to tell for sure, but experts are making new discoveries like this one every single day.

Source: Alpha Galileo via The Verge

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 08, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 08, 2019
Female Baboons Avoid Mating When STDs Are Involved
In the animal kingdom, wild creatures are quite literally hard-wired to locate suitable mates and work as quickly as possible to ensure reproductive succes...
DEC 08, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 08, 2019
What's Inside a Pufferfish May Surprise You
Pufferfish are among one of the most easily discernable fish in the ocean, especially when inflated. But do you know how these little fish are able to expa...
DEC 13, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 13, 2019
Mandatory Warning Labels for California Cannabis Products, Unsafe for Mothers-to-be
As the first state to legalize medical marijuana, California is to date one of the largest cannabis markets in the United States. A nine-member panel of sc...
DEC 18, 2019
Technology
DEC 18, 2019
Engineering Silk into Medical Devices
Scientists at Tufts University created an effective fabrication method for molding silk into medical devices. Silk is a biopolymer long known for its super...
JAN 26, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 26, 2020
Iguanas Are Falling From Trees in Florida
The state of Florida has endured an exceptionally chilly Winter season this time around, and some of the state’s wild critters are taking notice. Whi...
JAN 28, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 28, 2020
A Slug Does All it Can to Defend Against Hungry Ants
Slugs are slow, and this makes them easy targets for predators however big or small they might be. Here, we see that a slug has been spotted by a hungry co...
Loading Comments...