Giraffes are tall and amazing, but they’ve been lying to us.
While scientists and I previously considered the giraffe to just be just a bunch of the same giraffes, it turns out that after centuries of deceit from these long-necked freaks, science has discovered that giraffes differ so much across the board genetically that it’s necessary to classify them into four separate species.
“Some of the differences were as large or larger than the differences between brown bears and polar bears,” says geneticist Axel Janke. You can’t call it a Giraffa camelopardalis if it’s really not.
The New York Times reports:
Dr. Janke, along with Julian Fennessy from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia and their colleagues, tested the DNA of nearly 200 giraffes from across Africa. They found genetic mutations that were present in certain groups and absent in others. The differences in mutation patterns, they said, were strong enough to classify the groups as distinct species. In some cases subspecies of giraffe were upgraded to being full-blown species. The team published its results Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
This is wild. Like a new iPhone unveiling, we now know giraffes come in more colorful options. The four distinct species break down as such: southern giraffe, northern giraffe, Masai giraffe (which has notable dark spots) and reticulated giraffe (it kinda has horns on its body).
Why are we just finding this out? Because nobody cared. The presumption is that giraffes have widely been under-studied simply because researchers weren’t looking hard enough, it seems. Also the giraffes just “forgot” to mention it, which makes no sense, this newly discovered classification will purportedly aid in giraffe species preservation.