A new genetic research proves that giraffes are truly four species and not just one. According to the most current study, that is believed to have meaningful implications on the tallest mammals in the world, there are actually four species of giraffes and not just one species with more subspecies as it was believed until now.
In recent years, the number of giraffes in Africa has significantly decreased to fewer than 100,000 from more than 150,000.
In comparisons to other large animals like rhinoceroses, elephants, lions, and gorillas, there has been little research made on giraffes.
Julian Fennessy, a researcher at Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia, started analyzing the giraffes in Africa. He wanted to find out whether the translocations of the mammals had mixed the species and if this is the case, what can they do when other translocations of the species into protected areas or parks are being taken into consideration.
A geneticist at Goethe University in Germany, Axel Janke, mentioned that the coat pattern variations between the mammals are limited. For the analysis, Janke and his colleagues investigated the DNA samples taken from more than 190 giraffes skin biopsies. They were gathered from across Africa by Fennessy and his team. The specialists studied the mitochondrial DNA, which represents the DNA transmitted to offsprings from mothers. Moreover, they examined seven distinct genetic markers, which show the genetic varieties that denote if communities relate to separate species.
The research team analyzed the samples from all of the nine subspecies that they previously recognized.
The findings proved that there are four different groups of the mammals which apparently do not breed with each other. Given the conclusion, giraffes must be understood as four separate species. The four different species include Masai giraffe, southern giraffe, northern giraffe, and reticulated giraffe. The northern giraffe is known to include as a separate subspecies the Nubian giraffe.
Scientists have discovered that the brown-orange patches of the reticulated giraffe are divided by solid white lines that are brighter. Moreover, the Masai giraffe has darker patches that are separated by light brown lines that can reach their legs.
Te research is highly essential for the conservation of the mammals, and it also shows that, unfortunately, some species are already threatened.
Image source: Pixabay