The Evolution of the Giraffe Neck Essay

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The Evolution of the Giraffe Neck

Throughout time, one theory has remained constant in terms of why giraffes developed longer necks. The idea, which was presented by Charles Darwin states quite simply that giraffes selected for longer necks in order to reach the food that was higher off the ground during the dry season. No one has ever challenged that idea until 1996. Initially, Gould argued that "the story-the giraffe evolved its long neck in competition to reach scare foliage-is supported by no evidence" (18). That's when two scientists, Robert Simmons and Lou Scheepers made the claim that necks evolved for a very different reason: sexual selection. Within this paper, information will be presented that argues both for and against
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If food was scarce, it makes sense that the giraffes would evolve to keep their species alive. In order for this theory to remain true, there should be length increases in limbs in the same proportion as to the increases in their heads and necks. On the other hand, the proposed theory deals with the notion that the length of the giraffe neck increased because the neck is used as a weapon during intrasexual combat (Simmons 773). The basic idea of this is that during competition two males stand next to each other and exchange hits by using their necks. The top or back of the skull is actually used to knock the competitor to the ground. It is likely that with a larger neck and head, the giraffe is more destructive. It is also assumed that larger and longer necks would be selected for. The process of necking is unique to giraffes and only male giraffes have ever been viewed doing this. Therefore, it is likely that this action is related to sexual selection. Necking has been observed to be very effective for giraffes to obtain their mates. Often the males are knocked unconscious or even killed during the fighting. The violent nature of these fights is unbelievable. Even when an opponent may be knocked to the ground, that does not stop the fight. They may still be kicked or stepped which can eventually lead to death. "Sexual selection is a special form of natural selection that is responsible for the evolution of traits that promote
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