The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-14-2004, 04:41 PM
dyoungone dyoungone is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Why do giraffe's have pointy nobbly things on thier heads?

A question that has bothered me for a long while. By that I mean, my cousin,every copule of months ask's that question. I was once told it was for head butting. But as my cousin and myself don't really think this is true. Could someone please shed some ligtht on this!
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 07-14-2004, 04:58 PM
Blake Blake is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 10,207
The knobby things on a giraffes head are kind of like horns, and probably evolved from horns. Giraffes are the only surviving camel that has retained the horns, they have been lost in the standard camels and llama type things. Giraffes have horns for pretty much the same reason most ungulates have horns, they se them for fighting one another. Male giraffes fight by using their heads like wrecking balls, swinging them on the end of those long necks to build up steam and slamming them into opponents. The horns just add a little extra punch.

So in one sense they are used for headbutting, but itís an interesting kind of headbutt.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-14-2004, 05:14 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 25,763
Giraffes (family Giraffidae) are not camels (family Camelidae, including also llamas, guanacos, alpacas, and vicunas), and are not particularly closely related to them, being in a different suborder of the Artiodactyla, the Ruminantia (along with deer, antelopes, cattle, etc.), the camels being in the suborder Tylopoda.

The "horns" are called ossicones. Some males giraffes can have up to five such bony projections on the skull (two pairs plus a central one).

The only other member of the Giraffe family is the Okapi of central African rainforests.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-14-2004, 05:53 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
This site is a bit clumsy to use, but it's got a very comprehensive listing of life forms and their inter-relatedness.

And here are the giraffes!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-14-2004, 06:48 PM
Squink Squink is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
The only other member of the Giraffe family is the Okapi of central African rainforests.
The Okapi is the only mammal that can clean its ears with its tongue.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-14-2004, 07:08 PM
ltfire ltfire is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: E 161 St. and River Ave.
Posts: 1,761
KISS lead Gene Simmons can, also.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-14-2004, 08:42 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 9,983
The ossicones are, IIRC, morphologically and developmentally identical to the horn cores of other ungulates such as cows and sheep. The giraffes don't grow the keratin sheath.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-14-2004, 09:11 PM
Kaotic Newtral Kaotic Newtral is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Giraffes (family Giraffidae) are not camels (family Camelidae, including also llamas, guanacos, alpacas, and vicunas), and are not particularly closely related to them, being in a different suborder of the Artiodactyla, the Ruminantia (along with deer, antelopes, cattle, etc.), the camels being in the suborder Tylopoda.

The "horns" are called ossicones. Some males giraffes can have up to five such bony projections on the skull (two pairs plus a central one).

The only other member of the Giraffe family is the Okapi of central African rainforests.

That's an awesome answer Colibri. I couldn't figure out how giraffes were related to camels as Blake advised. I was searching for 20 minutes! I thought I was going crazy.

-K
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-14-2004, 09:15 PM
stockton stockton is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Atlanta, GA USA
Posts: 930
They use those horns to catch the stray apostropes.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-14-2004, 09:16 PM
stockton stockton is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Atlanta, GA USA
Posts: 930
Damn, I sure wish I just spelled 'apostrophes' correctly.

I just grew another horn. Ouch.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-14-2004, 09:31 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 25,763
As far as I am aware, no fossil camels had horns. However, there were some in North America that evolved long necks like giraffes, such as Oxydactylus

Some fossil relatives of the giraffe had rather sizeable "horns," notably Sivatherium and Giraffokeryx punjabiensis
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-14-2004, 09:54 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 12,579
In a trivia note, the American pronghorn (often called "pronghorn antelope," although it's not a "true antelope") has no particularly closely related artiodactyl cousins--but there is some belief now that its closest relative might be the giraffe!
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:11 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.