As among the biggest purveyors of children’s games and also toys, toys ‘Я’ united state saw the worth in selecting one of the an ext uniquely design creatures in the animal kingdom, the giraffe, together their spokesanimal. Noted for lengthy legs and a lengthy neck, the giraffe is the tallest soil dwelling animal on Earth and it’s different but docile appearance has actually long piqued the attentions of children worldwide. Now it shows up the attentions that the scientific community have additionally landed top top the tan-speckled beast.

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Weighing in in ~ an approximate 2,200 pounds, a group of researcher based the end of the Structure and also Motion Lab in ~ the imperial Veterinary college in London wondered exactly how the long, thin legs of the giraffe were able to assistance the rather robust torso the the animal. By studying the ligament structure within the legs, it shows up the team discovered their answer.

“Giraffes space heavy animals (around 1000 kg), but have person who is abnormal skinny body bones because that an animal of this size. This means their leg bones room under high levels of mechanically stress,” lead investigator chris Basu, of the imperial Veterinary College, explains in a statement. Speaking with the BBC Basu went on to state, “I’m interested in how giraffe have advanced from their modestly-proportioned ancestors to these bizarrely long-necked, long-legged animals that we watch today.”

The fairly diminutive okapi, the smaller antelope-like creature long thought to be the beforehand evolutionary progenitor the the giraffe, can now definitively be named as an early ancestor thanks to this research. “I’d prefer to link modern-day giraffes v fossil specimens to show the procedure of evolution,” Basu explained. “We hypothesize the the suspensory ligament has enabled giraffes to reach huge sizes the they otherwise would not have actually been able to achieve.”

The giraffe’s bones, i m sorry are similar to the human being metatarsal or foot bone and also the metacarpal or hand bone, are elongated and also make up about fifty percent the full length the the leg. Follow me the size of these bones room grooves i beg your pardon contain the suspensory ligament alluded to above by Basu. Other huge animals such as horses likewise have this form of foot structure, yet this was the an initial time the giraffe has been studied.

This structure can explain why the giraffe’s legs can hold increase their immense weight without collapsing. “It transforms out,” according to professor man Hutchinson native the royal Veterinary College, “that the suspensory ligament plays vital role.”

To check the theory, researchers embraced donated four from european zoos. The legs came from currently deceased giraffes that had died naturally or been euthanized for unrelated circumstances. The researchers put the limbs securely in strict frame and by making use of a hydraulic press applied around 560 pounds of pressure to every limb come simulate the bodyweight the the giraffe. The legs continued to be upright and stable even under included force. The suspensory ligament is a tissue, not a muscle, for this reason its duty is for support and also cannot generate any kind of force on its own.

Relying ~ above the suspensory ligament, quite than muscle, way this structure allows the giraffe come expend much less power as a result. This then reduces tiredness on the animal, allowing for much more efficient transport of it’s massively disproportionate frame. The team also learned the the suspensory ligament framework is crucial feature in the giraffe foot for avoiding damage come the feet by functioning to avoid overextension of the animal’s foot joints.

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The majestic and graceful nature that the wild giraffe shows up contradictory once you take into consideration that its load rivals that of part elephants and also other huge creatures. However, many thanks to this novel research right into the leg structure of these animals, we have learned it will take a lot much more than skinny legs and also knobby knee to save a great giraffe down.