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Fossils reveal a new reason for the long neck of a giraffe

Fossils reveal a new reason for the long neck of a giraffe

Washington – Reuters
Fossils unearthed in China of an ancient ancestor of the modern giraffe have bolstered insight into the early evolution of the long neck for which it is famous, backed not only by the advantage of reaching high foliage but also by head-butting competition between males for females.
In a study published Thursday, published in the journal “Science”, researchers described the skeletal remains, which include a thick skull and strong neck bones, of an ancient member of the giraffe lineage called “Discokerx shiji”. It was about the size of a rocky mountain sheep, and lived about 17 million years ago in the Xinjiang region of China.
According to the researchers, the robustly built skull and robust neck vertebrae of Discoquerques adapted well to rapid collision during head-butting, such as in the competition between males of some mammal species for females. They said that the Discoquirks had the most complex joints between the head and neck, as well as between the bones of the neck, than any other mammal.
The skull of “Discokerx” was topped with a large, cylindrical, helmet-shaped bone, similar to the bones above the head of a giraffe and similar to the horns today.
These horns are “usually used as weapons by males fighting for females,” said study co-author Shi Zhiwang, a paleontologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the study. with the head.”
“The traditional assumption about giraffe neck elongation is eating: reaching high for leaves,” Meng added. This new discovery shows that in the giraffe family, members did different things in their early development. The new types represent a clear example of cases in which the neck did not elongate, but it became too thick to absorb the force and impact of the strong headbutting.”
Another hypothesis for the evolution of the giraffe’s neck – a hypothesis supported by Deskokirks’ anatomy – suggests that the elongation was driven by behavior that appears in competition for females such as the “neck competition” we see today, in which males violently beat each other with their necks. Males with the longest necks often win these competitions.

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