Thursday, September 08, 2016

Not one giraffe, but four?

Various attempts to classify giraffe species and subspecies have been made, based on location, coat patterns, number of horns, etc., but zoologists today basically agree they are all part of  the single species Giraffa camelopardalis. Or at least they did agree.  A new DNA analysis indicates that, while the differences in morphology are relatively modest, there are actually four species. 
A study of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA of giraffes in Namibia, intended to help differentiate subspecies and thus clarify breeding lineages for conservationists, stunned the scientists involved with its results. The southern giraffe, northern giraffe, reticulated giraffe, and Masai giraffe - the northern being the "original" G. camelopardalis - have been named.  

My friend Dr. Valerie Beason, a genetic expert who didn't work on this study but knows a lot about this area (it was her team that validated the uniqueness of a second species of clouded leopard), commented, "Each day it seems the world of genetics gives us a gift.  This is great news not only for the Giraffes but for those species that share their ecosystems.  As new conservation measures instituted to protect the giraffes will benefit them." 

Nature - it can be wild. 

My kids feeding the reticulated giraffe herd at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. 

1 comment:

Fullvizyon said...