AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Giraffes, Giraffes, Giraffes, and More Giraffes


On the left is the Southern giraffe, while on the right is the Northern giraffe. They look the same but are genetically different.

Previously there was thought to be only one giraffe species, but recently with the help of genetic testing there are now four confirmed giraffe species. To make this amazing discovery, Scientists from the Senckenberg and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation utilized several nuclear marking genes on over 100 giraffes and analyzed the genetic relationship between all major species in the wild. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation collected more than 100 biopsy samples over the past decades from all areas of Africa, including war torn regions. They then sent the samples to the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre for analysis. The nuclear genes, which are genes found in the nucleus of Eukaryotes, were different enough in each group that it reveals how different species do not mate with each other. The four distinct species that were discovered are the southern giraffe, masai giraffe, reticulated giraffe, and northern giraffe. Besides demonstrating four groups, the scientists concluded from the data that some sub-species are in fact the same. The discovery highlights the need for greater conservation efforts for the overall giraffe species. While giraffes are already close to extinction, the idea that there are now four species exacerbates the issue as they are even closer to losing each diverse group.  With the giraffe species declining over 40% in the last 30 years to the point of only 68,000 of them left in the wild.

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1 Comment

  1. kangyotype

    This was very cool because I always thought that there was only one species of giraffe. I agree that it is definitely much more important to conserve all 4 species of giraffe now that there are 4 discovered. It is also interesting that they used markers in the nuclear genes that showed differences in the different types of giraffe.
    This article shows that it is important to make sure the giraffe population doesn’t go down as it has gone down 40% in the last 30 years. It is also important that the United States takes initiative in this conservation as they used the most giraffe products in the world.

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