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Giraffe Gifts

Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands. However, when food is scarce they will venture into areas with denser vegetation. They prefer areas with plenty of acacia growth. They will drink large quantities of water when available, which enables them to live for extended periods in dry, arid areas.

The Giraffe's Neck

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) has probably got its name from the Arabic word zerafa or ziraafa, which means ‘charming'. There is indeed something enchanting in these brown-eyed beauties of the African Savannah.

Charles Darwin did not use the giraffe's neck as an icon of evolution in the first editions of The Origin of Species. He did, however, mention it in the 1872 edition.

After Darwin's time the giraffe's neck evolved into an icon that was used as proof of the might of natural selection, a major ingredient in his thinking. The full title of Darwin's book was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Before Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), a French naturalist, suggested that organisms can pass on acquired characteristics to their offspring. According to Lamarckism, the giraffe got its long neck by stretching it to reach the succulent leaves of trees. Long-necked giraffes passed on this trait to their offspring.

In the Darwinian view, long-necked giraffes were more successful in finding food on the African savannah and got more offspring than their short-necked cousins.

Although the Darwinian explanation is interesting, it is not based on real science but on a wish to prove that evolution is real. It is nothing short of a just so story.

Unfortunately, some high school biology texts have used this icon as proof of evolution.

Giraffes live on the savannah where most of the trees are rather short acacias (Acacia). Often giraffe's heads can be seen towering above the trees.

Usually, giraffes do not eat from the taller trees, such as the baobab (Adansonia digitata) and sausage tree (Kigelia africana). Actually, the long neck is at times a handicap for giraffes. They often have to bend it downwards in order to eat the thorny yet obviously delicious leaves of the acacia.

The giraffe's blood pressure system speaks of incredibly intelligent design. Since its head can tower over five meters (15 feet) above the ground, we would expect that bending to drink water from a pool would be a real hazard for a giraffe. But it is not.

I have seen tens of giraffes in the savannahs of Kenya. Called twigas in Swahili, their feeding habits do no match with the ones described in high school biology texts.

But perhaps the writers of the high school biology textbooks have never seen a giraffe in its natural habitat.

About the Author
Joel Kontinen is an author and translator currently living in Finland. His bacground includes an MA in translation studies and a BA in Bible and Theology. He mostly writes about origins issues. Blog:.

Giraffe Gifts




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