Lesvos in the Past
The Giraffe of Vatera PDF Print E-mail
On the plains of Vatera, a kind of giraffe was browsing the trees, two million years ago. This giraffe (Mitilanotherium inexpectatum) was relatively small, compared to the giraffe of today. The legs were elongated, and so was its neck, but not as much as the giraffs of today.

Giraffes are gracile even-toed ungulates with long limbs, a long neck and a spotted skin. The early giraffes, however, had much shorter limbs, and a ‘normal’-sized neck; about the skin we know nothing. The skin may even have been striped on the limbs, as in the okapi, the only living close relative of the giraffe. Typical for giraffes of the present as well as of the past are the bony horn-like bumps on its head. These ‘horns’ (ossicones) are unlike the hollow horns of bovids and unlike the bony outgrowth (pedicle) of the skull of deer. They are formed in the skin and attach later to the skull.

The Queen of Beasts

Balancing a long neck
Why it is Giraffa camelopardalis? PDF Print E-mail

The word giraffe is derived from the Arabian word serafe, which means something like ‘the lovely one’. The Arabs admired this beautiful animal and considered it queen of beast, because of its long eyelashes and fragile build. The sultans kept them as royal pets. The Greeks and Romans on the other hand considered the giraff a kind of mishap, a bizarre bastard of a camel and a leopard. This is reflected in the scientific name for the giraffe of today: Giraffa camelopardalis. Whereas thus the Westerners could only think in terms of elements of known animals, the Arabs were able to appreciate this wonderful animal just for what it is.

The Queen of the Animal Kingdom


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