- Manchester scientists study giraffe behavior in a reserve in South Africa
- In an example of fair play, giraffe males with similar stature
- They also position themselves on the basis of whether they are right or ‘Southern’.
In a respectable example of fair play, giraffes choose similarly sized opponents to ensure a ‘square go’, a new study suggests.
From observations in South Africa, researchers at the University of Manchester found that men tend to exercise head butts with men of similar stature.
Giraffe males fight for ‘access to females in large numbers’ by launching their ossicles – two skin-covered bony structures on the top of their heads – at their opponents, using their long necks for leverage.
The force of a special powerful impact can cut flesh, injure and sometimes even kill a fighter.
In a respectable example of fair play, giraffe males exercise head butts with males of similar stature, reports the University of Manchester. In the picture, two giraffes walk over each other in a head-to-head position
Giraffes stop breeding early to care for grandchildren
A 2021 study suggests that female giraffes have evolved to go through menopause early enough to help care for their grandchildren.
The authors claim that elegant females spend up to 30 percent of their lives in the ‘post-reproductive stage’ to help raise successive generations of offspring in later life and to ensure the preservation of their genes.
This evolutionary feature is known as the ‘grandmother’s hypothesis’ and has been used to explain why humans live so long after reproduction.
The authors also say that 30 percent is compared to elephants and killer whales, which spend 23 percent and 35 percent, respectively, in the post-breeding state.
Read more: Giraffes stop breeding early to care for grandchildren, study finds
For the first time, researchers also report that individuals displayed stronger ‘lateralism’ when fighting – in other words, the position they took when dueling depended on whether they were ‘right’ (right). -oriented) or ‘clockwise’ (left-oriented).
Individuals consistently preferred to strike from their left or right sides, and these preferences determined the orientation of the bouts—whether standing head-to-head or head-to-tail.
If one giraffe was left-oriented and the other right, they would stand face-to-face so that they could each approach the other from their preferred side.
Conversely, if both were left-oriented, or both were right-oriented, they would stand face to face.
Interestingly, opponents respected this preference and did not try to unfairly outsmart their opponent by standing on their weaker side.
Study author Jessica Granweiler at the University of Manchester said: ‘Fight is extremely rare because it is extremely violent. new York Times.
‘I don’t know if it’s a mutual agreement – respect my side and I’ll respect yours. I have never seen a man cheating.’
Interestingly, the observed giraffes had a more equal division between left-handers and right-handers than most right-handed humans.
The team observed northern giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) at the Mogalakwena River Reserve in South Africa between November 2016 and May 2017.
As the species name suggests, this species of giraffe is native to North Africa, but the animals were kept in a private fenced reserve.
Giraffe males, known as bulls, fight before striking each other in a head-to-head position (A) or head-to-tail position (B).
The researchers found that sparring bouts were seen most frequently among young adults, and among men who were more evenly matched in size.
They found that fights between males of similar body size were also characterized by being of high intensity and of short duration.
Granweiler and his co-authors explain, ‘These results support the suggestion that sparring primarily serves to provide mature males with a means to test their competitive ability without full-scale fights.
Researchers study a population of giraffes living in a private fenced reserve in Limpopo, South Africa
The team also observed a ‘bar brawl’ effect, where one fight sparked other nearby giraffe fights.
Astonishingly, fights sometimes had a responsible ‘referee’ – older, mature males would sometimes break up matches between younger males.
“It’s a clever way of creating confusion among low-ranking males to maintain dominance and monopolize females,” said Monica Bond at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, who was not involved in this study.
‘Like most mammals, it is a difficult world for people.’
The sparring indicated a seasonal peak that coincided with the start of the wet season. This graph of the paper shows this seasonal variation in bouts. Bars indicate the rate of sparring observed per month. The blue line shows the seasonal pattern of daily rainfall (mm)
The researchers also found that sparring exhibits a seasonal peak that coincides with the onset of the wet season and ‘possibly reflects an increased aggregation of males at this time’.
This wet season, which coincided with the greening of vegetation, was particularly at its peak around December.
The study is important because the more we understand giraffe behavior, the better zookeepers can care for the animals.
‘How social and environmental factors shape interactions between individuals, such as sparring, will improve our understanding and management of this charismatic animal,’ say Granweiler and his team.
The study has been published in the journal ethics.
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