The differentially patterned faces of the various giraffes

The facial profiles of all giraffes are spotted to some extent/degree, with individual variation. However, each of the four species has its own subtle pattern, and there is additional, subspecific variation in one of the species.

In the northeastern species, namely Giraffa reticulata, the spotting is as close to uniform as in any type of giraffe. This is the least remarkable pattern found in any species or subspecies, and the one most satisfactorily explained as camouflage (

In the northern and western species, namely Giraffa camelopardalis, the uniformity of the spotting tends to be outweighed by a pale trend, depending largely on the subspecies. The paleness is achieved mainly by an encroachment of the matrix on the spots, which themselves can be not only reduced in size but also faded. At its extreme the result is an overall conspicuous pallor, which seems consistent with the fact that this species also has conspicuously pale lower legs.

In the eastern species, namely Giraffa tippelskirchi, the spotting tends not to be uniform. Instead, there is a separation between the spotted cheeks and a spotless patch of pale matrix just below and in front of the eye (e.g. and

In the southern species, namely Giraffa giraffa, the same separation is technically present. However, it is smudged because of a tendency for the spotting to be faded and the matrix to be greyish instead of whitish. The result is faded but not conspicuously pallid except where a sheen effect appears (

These patterns are not sexually dimorphic, and can thus be illustrated by females and males interchangeably.

RETICULATA: uniform spotting

CAMELOPARDALIS: uniform spotting subject to variable degrees of pallor

subspecies peralta

HYBRID reticulata X camelopardalis:

TIPPELSKIRCHI: separation below eye

subspecies thornicrofti

GIRAFFA: smudged separation below eye

Posted on Νοέμβριος 29, 2021 0441 ΠΜ by milewski milewski


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