It is very difficult to tell the different giraffe species apart. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Tony Hisgett
A new study has revealed that, contrary to popular belief, there is more than one species of giraffe.
These easily recognizable long-necked mammals have been a popular staple of zoos and safari parks for years, but now a new research paper has revealed that there are actually four distinct species of giraffe, not one, and that two of these are already in danger of going extinct.
The names assigned to the four species are the southern giraffe, the Masai giraffe, the reticulated giraffe and the northern giraffe which also happens to be the most endangered of the four.
"With now four distinct species, the conservation status of each of these can be better defined," said Julian Fennessy of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia. "Northern giraffes number less than 4,750 individuals in the wild, and reticulated giraffes number less than 8,700 individuals. "
"As distinct species, it makes them some of the most endangered large mammals in the world."
The geneticists behind the discovery, who analyzed DNA samples from 190 giraffes, found that the distinct types were at least as different as, for instance, polar bears and brown bears.
Their limited physical differences however make them very difficult to tell apart.
Source: Independent | Comments (6)
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