Giraffe Evolution: Two Popular Stories

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a marvelous animal, better known than its forest-dwelling relative the okapi and countless other charismatic artiodactyls in large part due to its proportions. As a result, there has been no shortage of speculation about the origins of the giraffe’s iconic neck.

Making things up about giraffes is a well-established tradition: Timotheus of Gaza (~500 CE) reports that “the giraffe is an Indian animal; and it is born from the intercourse of different animals” (presumably a camel and a leopard, given the name). Lamarck also had his hypothesis, but there is enough confusion around Lamarck already that I’m not really excited about engaging with that without proper caution (to paraphrase a paleontologist friend of mine: “Almost no one knows what Lamarck said, Lamarck said crazy s**t”).

Publish DateSeptember 5, 2023
Last UpdatedSeptember 5, 2023