5 Amazing Giraffe Facts – Science on the Web #51

5 Amazing Giraffe Facts – Science on the Web #51


(pop music) – That’s wildlife photographer, Chris Bernard’s GoPro footage
of a stalking giraffe. And it really serves to drive
home majestic and amazing these animals really are. – So, let’s run through
five mind blowing factoids about these towering giants. – [Man] First of all with a total height of 19 feet or 6 meters, the giraffe is the tallest
land animal in the world. – [Woman] And that height comes in handy as these African eating
machines munch down on high hanging leaves and shoots pulling the goods into
their mouth with that long, twisty tongue. – [Man] Giraffe tongues can
stretch as far as 18 inches or 46 centimeters to snag
even the highest hanging leaf. – [Woman] And it adds up
to massive consumption. During the course of a day, a full grown giraffe will
consume more than 100 pounds or 45 kilograms of leaves and twigs. – [Man] Giraffe fact number three, they sleep less than two hours a day. Now, it’s not uncommon for prey animals to depend on fewer sleep hours, but giraffes really
present the shallow end of that sleep pool. Now, they prefer to tuck their feet and rest their head on their hindquarters, but they’ll settle for
short bouts of sleep standing as well. – [Woman] Fact number four, that amazing flexible neck
has only seven vertebrae, no more than you or me. So how does this work? Well, giraffe’s cervical
vertebrae are bound together with ball and socket joints. There are the kind of
joints that link your arm with your shoulder and offer
360 degree range of motion. – [Man] Also, the joint
between it’s neck and the skull permits the giraffe to extend it’s head almost completely
perpendicular to the ground. Plus, the giraffe’s thoracic vertebrae, where the neck meets the back, also benefits from a flexible
ball and socket joint rather than the fused stability that we find in our own neck. – [Woman] Fact number five, since the giraffe’s brain is
so far away from it’s heart it has to have extremely
high blood pressure, about twice that found in humans. Plus, the giraffe heart beats
up to 170 times per minute, double that of humans. – [Man] All that plumbing
serves to pump blood against the pull of gravity
up to the giraffe’s brain. Much like pumping water
up to a house on a hill. But what happens when it
lowers it’s head to drink? Why doesn’t it’s head explode
from the surge of blood? – [Woman] It’s all thanks to
the giraffe’s rete mirable, that’s Latin for wonderful net. And it is indeed a wonderful
of net of arteries and veins that divert some of the blood flow equalizing the giraffe’s blood pressure when the animal lowers it’s head. – [Man] You can think of it as a kind of natural release valve because
evolution doesn’t favor the exploding giraffe. – [Woman] So, reconsider
the giraffe, people. You grew up seeing them
in zoos and picture books and it’s easy to overlook their greatness. But these lion kicking,
neck fighting creatures are true marvels of the animal kingdom. And my, aren’t their awkward babies cute? – So there you go. I hope now you have a little respect for this amazing animal. – Yeah, and now that you know, pandas versus giraffes. Who would you root for? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to subscribe. (pop music)