For The First Time Ever, Scientists Discover Dwarf Giraffes Standing At Just 9 Ft In Namibia And Uganda

Did you know that giraffes have black tongues? Yep, no doubt only the hardcore giraffe lovers knew that one, but there is still a lot that is yet to be discovered about giraffes.

Hence, we have researchers out in Africa studying this amazing species of animals. And one such team of researchers were surprised to spot two wild dwarf giraffes—the first of their kind. They were documented and the pictures have since been making headlines on the internet.

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Turns out, dwarfism can also hit giraffes as seen in this research paper by a giraffe conservation group

Image credits: Emma Wells / GCF

So, researchers from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) published a paper in BMC Research Notes, an open-access journal publisher, describing two giraffes from separate populations in Namibia and Uganda who turned out to be dwarfs among their kin.

The paper focuses on giving a detailed account of what are considered the first known accounts of dwarf giraffes in scientific literature.

A team of researchers from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) stumbled upon two dwarf giraffes

Image credits: Emma Wells / GCF

The giraffes were documented in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, and on a private farm in Central Namibia during photographic surveys that GCF regularly conduct to determine population numbers, their dynamics, and distribution across Africa.

On one such field trip, the researchers snapped some pictures and measured the limb dimensions of the two dwarf giraffes. Compared to other specimens in the populations, they found out that these dwarfs had shorter legs—or more specifically, shorter radius and metacarpal bones. But their necks are the same length.

They were documented in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, and on a private farm in Namibia

Image credits: Michael Brown / GCF

The lead author of the paper, Dr. Michael Brown, explained that instances of wild animals with these types of skeletal dysplasias (abnormal development of cells) are extremely rare, and it provides a unique glimpse into the giraffe population living in an already diverse ecosystem.

These two in particular were named Gimli—after Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings character who’s a dwarf—and Nigel, quite possibly after Sir Nigel Pennyweight from Ghoulies. They measure at 9.3 and 8.5 feet in height—in context, the average giraffe is at least 15 feet high (20 feet at most).

A regular giraffe measures at 15-20 feet high, but these ones are 8.5 and 9.3 feet high

Image credits: Emma Wells / GCF

It’s not yet known what effect (if any) this may have on giraffe survival or reproduction. Some speculate that it may hinder their chances to avoid predators because of the shorter legs and it might be a problem with finding mates, but researchers will keep an eye on them to see if there are any more variations.

And as explains Emma Wells, one of the researchers involved in the team, it was a bit hard to spot the giraffe at first: “While the Namibian farmer had spotted Nigel regularly over the years, it was only after our observations that he realized that Nigel was not a juvenile but a fully grown male giraffe. It is mainly in comparison to other giraffes that his difference in stature becomes obvious.”

One was named Gimli, after the Lord of the Rings character, while the other one is Nigel, possibly a reference to Sir Nigel Pennyweight from Ghoulies

Image credits: Michael Brown / GCF

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Sad to say, but throughout Africa, giraffes have experienced significant population declines over the last 30 years, leading to a bit of a crisis. GCF as well as a number of other organizations are carrying out monitoring programs in Namibia, Uganda, and other countries, providing crucial information to support conservation efforts and to prevent possible extinction, as there are 111,000 giraffes living in the wild to date.

Here’s the comparison of a normal giraffe (A) and the two dwarf giraffes found in Africa (B and C)

Image credits: Emma Wells / Michael Brown / GCF

Check out a video of the dwarf giraffe below

Image credits: Michael Brown / GCF

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below!

The post For The First Time Ever, Scientists Discover Dwarf Giraffes Standing At Just 9 Ft In Namibia And Uganda first appeared on Bored Panda.

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