New Delhi: Did any one of us ever wonder that what led to the evolution of giraffe's long neck and its record-holding ranking as the world's tallest land species? Actually not.
In a first, a team of researchers from Penn State University have discovered new insights into what is the reason behind the most iconic feature of the world's tallest land animal.
The genomes of the giraffe and its closest living relative, the reclusive okapi of the African rainforest, have been sequenced, revealing the first clues about the genetic changes that led to the formation of giraffe's long neck.
"The giraffe's stature, dominated by its long neck and legs and an overall height that can reach 19 feet, is an extraordinary feat of evolution that has inspired awe and wonder for at least 8,000 years, as far back as the famous rock carvings at Dabous in the Republic of Niger," said Douglas Cavener of Penn State University.
"The evolutionary changes required to build the giraffe's imposing structure and to equip it with the necessary modifications for its high-speed sprinting and powerful cardiovascular functions have remained a source of scientific mystery since the 1800s, when Charles Darwin first puzzled over the giraffe's evolutionary origins," said Cavener.
The giraffe's heart, for example, must pump blood two meters straight up in order to provide an ample blood supply to its brain.
This feat is possible because the giraffe's heart has evolved to have an unusually large left ventricle, and the species also has blood pressure that is twice as high as other mammals.
(With ANI inputs)