Appearance and Anatomy
Fully grown giraffes stand 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall, with males taller than females. The average weight is 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) for an adult male and 830 kg (1,800 lb) for an adult female. Despite its long neck and legs, the giraffe's body is relatively short. Located at both sides of the head, the giraffe's large, bulging eyes give it good all-round vision from its great height. Giraffes see in color and their senses of hearing and smell are also sharp. The animal can close its muscular nostrils to protect against sandstorms and ants. The giraffe's prehensile tongue is about 50 cm (20 in) long. It is purplish-black in color, perhaps to protect against sunburn, and is useful for grasping foliage as well as for grooming and cleaning the animal's nose. The upper lip of the giraffe is also prehensile and useful when foraging. The lips, tongue and inside of the mouth are covered in papillae to protect against thorns.
The coat has dark blotches or patches (which can be orange, chestnut, brown or nearly black on color) separated by light hair (usually white or cream in color). Male giraffes become darker as they age. The coat pattern serves as camouflage, allowing it to blend in the light and shade patterns of savanna woodlands. The skin underneath the dark areas may serve as windows for thermoregulation, being sites for complex blood vessel systems and large sweat glands. Each individual giraffe has a unique coat pattern. The skin of a giraffe is mostly gray. It is also thick and allows them to run through thorn bush without being punctured. Their fur may serve as a chemical defence, as it is full of parasite repellents that give the animal a characteristic scent. There are at least eleven main aromatic chemicals in the fur, although indole and 3-methylindole are responsible for most of the smell. Because the males have a stronger odor than the females, it is suspected that it also has a sexual function. Along the animal's neck is a mane made of short, erect hairs. The 1 m (3.3 ft) tail ends in a long, dark tuft of hair and is used as a defense against insects.
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Other articles related to "appearance and anatomy":
... The Harttiini are characterized by numerous and pedunculated teeth, a caudal fin with more branched rays, the absence of postorbital notches and predorsal keels, a rounded mouth, papillose lips weakly or not fringed, and short maxillary barbels ... The Loricariini are characterized by a more important variation in lips and teeth shape, the frequent presence of postorbital notches and predorsal keels, longer maxillary barbels, and less numerous teeth and branched rays in the caudal fin ...
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