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There are actually four species of giraffe

Posted on Friday, 9 September, 2016 | Comment icon 6 comments

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)

Tags: Giraffe

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Clair on 9 September, 2016, 17:23
The following article details the four species, all of which are at more risk than previously thought: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/giraffe-genetics/  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Aftermath on 9 September, 2016, 20:48
Cool. Sad.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Gecks on 9 September, 2016, 22:27
It must make hard for conservation efforts though if they are so hard to tell apart
Comment icon #4 Posted by DieChecker on 10 September, 2016, 6:33
That's pretty interesting. Kind of like when a few years ago they determined there were two different species of African Elephant.... a savanna/bush species and a forest species.
Comment icon #5 Posted by HoboMoo on 10 September, 2016, 6:36
If there are considering them diferente species, should they consider different races of humans different species as well? Seems to be splitting hairs in my book
Comment icon #6 Posted by DieChecker on 10 September, 2016, 9:28
Well, from what I read, the 4 species probably diverged 1.5 million years ago, and there is no sign of hybridization, so they stay within their species when they mate. Humans on the other hand may have evolved in that same 1.5 million year range, however, we never, for millions of years, secluded our separate peoples into closed groups, so we all are still one species.  I'd say an argument could be made for sub-species, based on physical traits, but that is not Politically Correct in this day and age.

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