The ancient Giraffe family developed a long neck for fighting

The ancient bones of a distant ancestor of the modern giraffe evidence is being provided to scientists as to why the animal’s long neck developed.

Scientists say these fossils found in China were long-necked to be helpful in competitions between men.

The researchers recently described it fossils such as a thick skull, or strong bones and strong bones in the neck. They belonged to a first member of the giraffe family named Discokeryx xiezhi. This creature lived about 17 million years ago in the Xinjiang area of ​​northwest China.

Discokeryx’s strong skull and strong neck bones were fine adapted high-speed head-to-head accidents. According to the researchers, the mammals of some mammal species were similar to those seen for females.

They explained that Discokeryx had the most complex bones in the neck of any mammal. This was the case between the joints of the head and the neck, as well as between the individual bones of the neck.

Discokeryx means “disc branch”, which is a single-branched creature in traditional Chinese stories. Discokeryx’s skull had a large round, thick bone structure known as an ossicle. That’s the horn-shaped object at the top of the giraffe’s heads.

Shi-Qi Wang Wang, lead author of the study, published in the journal Science, said: “Like ossicles, horns and horns, they usually serve as a weapon for men who are fighting for their partners.”

Research writer Jin Meng said the traditional idea that giraffes have long necks today is a traditional idea that long necks are useful for eating tree leaves. “Discokeryx probably ate herbs,” Meng explained.

Meng added: “This new finding shows that members of the giraffe family do different things in their infancy. evolution. The new species is an extreme example, where the neck … becomes too thick to absorb power and effect from the severe blows to the head. “

Another idea about the evolution of the giraffe’s neck – supported by Discokeryx’s bone structure – is that the extension of the neck was driven by the behavior shown by competing pairs like the “neck” seen in today’s giraffes. In such competitions, the males violently beat each other by the neck. Men with longer necks often win these fights.

“If the male giraffe has a shorter neck, the female may refuse the male’s request for cover,” Wang said.

Neck stretching or stretching evolved independently among various animal groups hundreds of millions of years ago.

Discokeryx, the researchers said, may provide information about the initial developments in the giraffe neck extension that occurred millions of years ago.

Discokeryx, however, took a different path of evolution, specializing in head blows. It is not considered a direct ancestor of the current giraffe, but a side development of the giraffe family.

The modern giraffe found in Africa south of the Sahara Desert is the tallest terrestrial animal in the world. Males can grow up to 5.5 meters in height and females up to 4.3 meters in height. The neck of a giraffe, about 1.8 meters long, has only seven-necked bones like other mammals.

Discokeryx lived in open pastures with small groups of trees during the Miocene. He lived with ancient elephants, rhinos, pigs, deer and horses. Predators at the time there were saber-toothed cats, hyenas, and a member of a group of mammals called “dog bears,” a creature as large as a modern polar bear.

I’m John Russell.

Will Dunham reported this story to Reuters. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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The words in this story

giraffe – n. A very tall African animal with a very long neck and legs

fossil – n. Something (such as a leaf, skeleton, or footprint) that belonged to a plant or animal that lived in ancient times and that you can see on some rocks.

evolution – n. the process by which changes in plants and animals occur over time

molded—V. change (something) to make it work better or better fit a purpose

effect – n. the action or force that one thing imparts to another

predators – n. an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals: an animal that catches other animals

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