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Necks-for-sex or competing browsers? A critique of ideas on the evolution of giraffe

Recent years have witnessed a resurgence in tests of the evolution and origin of the great height and long neck of the giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis. The two main hypotheses are (1) long necks evolved through competition with other browsers allowing giraffe to feed above them (‘competing browsers’ hypothesis); or (2) the necks evolved for direct use in intra-sexual combat to gain access to oestrous females (‘necks-for-sex’ hypothesis). Here, we review recent developments and their relative contribution in explaining giraffe evolution.

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