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Giraffes May Be Six Separate Species

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the neck-and-neck dept.

Science 239

The BBC reports on research, published in BMC Biology, pointing to the possibility that there may be at least six species of giraffe in Africa. Quoting: "'Using molecular techniques we found that giraffes can be classified into six groups that are reproductively isolated and not interbreeding,' David Brown, the lead author of the study and a geneticist at... UCLA told BBC News. 'The results were a surprise because although the giraffes look different, if you put them in zoos, they breed freely.'"

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239 comments

Huh? (0, Troll)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804800)

Let me be the first to ask: Who cares?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804816)

I wanted to be the first to ask. Dangit!

Re:Huh? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805082)

Creationists who somehow want to claim there is "macro-evolution" that's different from regular evolution?

I care... (1)

tomzyk (158497) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805304)

... because random stupid facts like this are bound to show up as a question or two on NTN trivia within the next month.

Re:Huh? (1)

yuriyg (926419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806446)

Well, this is "News for Nerds" site after all. I, for one, openly admit my nerdiness, and proudly declare that I do care.

Same thing with people... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804804)

Even though we all look different (eg: skin colour, height, "width", etc), if you put us in zoos, we will breed freely also

Re:Same thing with people... (5, Funny)

Beached (52204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804826)

Yah, it's called College

Re:Same thing with people... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804852)

Yeah, its also called low income housing...

Re:Same thing with people... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804904)

Yeah, except there you got an inordinate amount of niggers and spics.

Re:Same thing with people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804926)

Yeah, except there you got an inordinate amount of niggers and spics.
... and on Slashdot you get an inordinate amount of asshole trolls who wouldn't dare espouse their beliefs in public.

Re:Same thing with people... (0, Flamebait)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805040)

You mean he's incorrect? African-Americans and Hispanic people aren't disproportionately located in low income housing? Wow! It's great these people have been able to overcome the social handicap their ethnicities started with in America (as in, not being able to vote, having discriminatory hiring practices put in place against them, etc, etc). America must truly be a land of racial equality!

Re:Same thing with people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805276)

Australia isn't any better [greenleft.org.au].

Re:Same thing with people... (3, Insightful)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806118)

Paraphrasing the sequence of this thread
Person A: "niggers and spics 2+2=4"
Person B: "Racist"
You: "You mean he's incorrect? Two plus two is NOT four?"

No. He meant person A was a racist ass (and/or a deliberate troll).

African-Americans and Hispanic people aren't disproportionately located in low income housing?

That is a simple fact.

Someone who thinks that fact is relevant to mention may or may not be a racist, and it is reasonable to consider the context to see if it was indeed a reasonable relevant point or if it was motivated by bigotry.

Someone who rants about "niggers and spics" is a racist ass (and/or a deliberately trolling), regardless of whatever is said along with "niggers and spics".

Hitler said 2+2=4. He may even have used 2+2=4 somewhere as one step in his rationalization for exterminating Jews and other "undesirables". A true fact is a true fact, no matter who utters it. And equally, the fact that some literal datum is true does not necessarily make it relevant, and does not mean that it is being applied in a valid context mental chain of intent and conclusion.

-

Re:Same thing with people... (4, Insightful)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806786)

Here is a dirty little fact that most people don't know the average adult on welfare is a single WHITE woman with children. Furthermore white people live off of welfare as well and profit from it far more than African Americans or Hispanics, except in the corporate world they call it SUBSIDIES. All those farmers who get paid NOT to farm? All those airlines who receive money from the government to avoid bankruptcy. All of the oil companies who get huge tax breaks when they are earning record profits? Thats government sponsored WELFARE and the people who benefit from such welfare are largely middle class and upper middle class people who are largely white. Welfare programs for the poor are absolute chump change compared to the amount of money corporations and by proxy their shareholders take from the government.

Breeding? (4, Informative)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804808)

Although the giraffes look different, if you put them in zoos, they breed freely.

Assuming they produce viable offspring, isn't that one of the primary definitions for a single species?

Re:Breeding? (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804830)

Well, I am no biologist... But from what I know of most birds, most species can't interbreed... there are sub species... like a scarlet macaw can reproduce with a blue and gold and you get a catalina.... but a Parakeet cannot breed with a macaw... If they ever do... I think I might want one then... but the macaw would eat the poor Parakeet... wouldn't it be better to say 6 subspecies of giraffe?

Re:Breeding? (4, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804854)

"wouldn't it be better to say 6 subspecies of giraffe?"

You mean, like:
  • giraffa
  • giraffb
  • giraffc
  • giraffd
  • giraffe
  • girafff
?

Re:Breeding? (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804876)

Well, no... You would name them... birds for example... Conure is the species and then the sub species are: nanday, sun, jenday, cherry head, patagonian, green cheek, cinamon cheek, peach front, etc... Why not the Kranfer Giraffe, Picard Giraffe, etc etc

Re:Breeding? (4, Interesting)

ConanG (699649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804934)

you mean like:

Reticulated Giraffe
Masai Giraffe
Rothschild Giraffe
South African Giraffe
Thornicroft Giraffe
Nigerian Giraffe

Re:Breeding? (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805096)

The question is, what is the airspeed of an unladen giraffe of each species?

Considering the old engineers' saying that even pigs can fly given enough thrust, we should assume equal initial thrust, then calculate the air drag given the aerodynamic properities of a giraffe of each species. That, in turn, allows us to determine the giraffe's velocity after the time t, which, after a simple integration, yelds an average airspeed value. Moreover, it would be preferable to confirm the findings experimentally [youtube.com], as an excercise for the reader.

Re:Breeding? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805202)

"giraffe - Wiktionary
giraffe (plural giraffes). A ruminant, of the genus Giraffa [wiktionary.org], of the African Savannah with long legs and highly elongated neck, which make it the tallest ..."


So, if they haven't gotten the DNA analysis wrong (I think they may have), they would bump the genus up to specie and run the a, b, c, d, e, f routine - works for me :)

Re:Breeding? (3, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804872)

What about the Norwegian Blue?

Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Re:Breeding? (3, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805060)

Someone want to link me the Monty Python script this is taken from so I can see where this comment originated?

Oh you might be wondering how I know its a Monty Python quote without knowing the reference? Its elementary, you see:
* Its been modded 2, Funny so it could be a joke.
* It makes very little sense in this context confirms it is a joke.
* A very British accent is being used so obviously the joke is of English (the country, not the language) origin.
* This is a site for nerds so unless a cult of The Goodies [wikipedia.org] has risen up while I wasn't looking, it has to be a Monty Python reference.

Re:Breeding? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805230)

I don't get people like you. In the time it took you to type out four bullet points (including one with a wikipedia link), you could've just googled for the exact phrase and checked the first fucking hit on google to get the answer to your question.

Re:Breeding? (3, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805698)

Yes, but then he wouldn't be able to show how smart he was working out it was a python reference.

Re:Breeding? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805804)

Wait, I'm confused... so, does this count as meta-humor now? Or is it just pretentious showing off? I guess maybe it would depend on whether he really doesn't know the Norwegian Blue skit or not. In one case he knows what he's talking about making this meta-humor, and the other he's trying to show off some deductive reasoning playing off of slashdot stereotypes. Or maybe he just really likes bullet point lists.

Re:Breeding? (4, Informative)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805020)

wouldn't it be better to say 6 subspecies of giraffe?
IAAB, and yes, that's absolutely correct. They're subspecies.

You get the same thing with the house mouse, mus musculus -- subspecies that are genetically distinct and geographically isolated, but which will interbreed in captivity (and in bordering zones in the wild). It's presumed that a lower fitness in the offspring of cross-subspecies matings in bordering zones keeps the subspecies separate.

Re:Breeding? (1)

stuntpope (19736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806094)

From the BBC:

"Currently giraffes are considered to represent a single species classified into multiple subspecies."

The story contrasts this current view with the new DNA studies that show at least 6 different giraffe species. So the news is that giraffes actually are of different species, not subspecies as previously thought.

Re:Breeding? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806816)

I am not convinced. The ability to produce viable offspring ("if you put them in zoos, they breed freely") means that they're by definition one species. The only thing the new test shows is that the generation of the subspecies was very long ago, but that doesn't change anything.
Also, the "species" classification appears to be politically motivated. From TFA: "It is hoped that classifying current subspecies as fully fledged species will help inform conservation plans" Regardless of the motivations behind that, it is a really bad way to do science, which should be concerned only with the facts of the matter.

Re:Breeding? (3, Informative)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804836)

Although the giraffes look different, if you put them in zoos, they breed freely.

Assuming they produce viable offspring, isn't that one of the primary definitions for a single species?
There is no rigorous definition of "species". See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem [wikipedia.org]

Re:Breeding? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804884)

You can also get odd situations where varieties A and C can't interbreed with each other, but either can with B. IIRC there is some kind of duck or goose that has this property.

Re:Breeding? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804942)

You can also get odd situations where varieties A and C can't interbreed with each other, but either can with B. IIRC there is some kind of duck or goose that has this property.
There are at least two metaphysical issues in these kinds of statements:
1. "Varieties" do not interbreed, individuals do. Interbreeding is a property of members of different sets, not of the sets themselves.
2. The use of the word "can" implies that potential (as opposed to actualities) can be considered a property (of the set or of the member of the set?). Certain members of a given set will necessarily be "unable" (not do so ever) to interbreed or even breed within its own set (cf. set of Slashdot subscribers).

Re:Breeding? (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805102)

And in biology they just call it "ring species" and are done with it.

Re:Breeding? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805326)

And in biology they just call it "ring species" and are done with it.
Thanks for the info. But to my mind, this just accentuates the fact that the concept of "species" is broken and is no longer useful for scientific advancement.

Re:Breeding? (2, Informative)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804838)

Someone can correct me if I'm off my nut here but:
I think that's the major definition, but further categories can be made on things like different physical or (like in this study) genetic characteristics. Also, if the populations are genetically (and possibly morphologically, as the summary suggests) and do not interbreed in the wild that would suggest that giraffes may be well divided into subspecies.

Re:Breeding? (1)

Epistax (544591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804974)

Assuming they produce viable offspring, isn't that one of the primary definitions for a single species?

I am no biologist. What about Tiger + Lion = Liger? Tigers and Lions don't breed in the wild (geographic reasons, mostly!). A lion is one species, a tiger is another species, and a liger is a third species, all in the genus Panthera.

If anyone would like to educate me on this that's fine, I willingly profess my ignorance in this classification system!

Re:Breeding? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805002)

By "breeding" scientists usually mean producing fertile offspring. "Ligers", alas, are sterile, as well as mules, as far as I know.

I am tempted, but lazy, to look into an original peer-reviewed article to find out if "zoo offspring" of different kinds of giraffes is fertile or not.

Re:Breeding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805992)

"Ligers", alas, are sterile, as well as mules, as far as I know.

Nope, Ligers aren't mules :)

Re:Breeding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805012)

The Liger is not a species. It is a hybrid of two other species. Most ligers are sterile and unable to reproduce with either of the parent species or with another liger.

Re:Breeding? (2, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805084)

Tigers and Lions don't breed in the wild (geographic reasons, mostly!
Well that and everyone knows tigers are sluts and so no-one will consider sleeping with one unless they've got a vet nearby to help treat them for the STDs the poor lion invariably caught.

Re:Breeding? (1)

Mhtsos (586325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805038)

By definition two animals of a single species can produce non sterile offspring. For example horses and donkeys aren't of the same species because mules are sterile.

Re:Breeding? (1)

protobion (870000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805252)

Actually, it depends what you're talking about. A species is defined [wikipedia.org] *loosely* as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. However, more precise and increasingly quantitative definitions are possible when looking at molecular markers and such. It would depend on the degree of stringency required for the particular problem being addressed. Since in this case, the giraffe populations are reproductively isolated in the wild, even though there is presuably no geographic isolation, they could be classified as separate species.
For example, several members of the Canis genus can interbreed and produce fertile offspring [wikipedia.org]. However, wolves and jackals are typically classified as separate species.

Re:Breeding? (1)

mdiep (823946) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805730)

Assuming they produce viable offspring, isn't that one of the primary definitions for a single species?

It is one of the definitions, yes, but not the only one. And while it's true that inviable offspring show that there are two separate species, two separate species will not necessarily produce inviable offspring.

Darwin's finches in the galapagos are commonly used as an example of an evolutionary speciation event, but they are able to interbreed and produce viable offspring. What counts in this case is their reproductive isolation: they don't normally interbreed.

Reproductive isolation can result from differences in appearance, geographic location, breeding rituals, or other factors. These factors may then result in the separation of species.

It all seems like a bit of a crock to me, but the definition of species appears to be a hard problem.

Re:Breeding? (1)

Conanymous Award (597667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806038)

>> Although the giraffes look different, if you put them in zoos, they breed freely.
> Assuming they produce viable offspring, isn't that one of the primary definitions for a single species?


Not necessarily. Defining a species is a real hassle, and hasn't been solved. In biology this is known as the Species Problem. You see, many populations - like, for example, these giraffes - could interbreed and produce viable offspring, but for many different reasons, like geographical isolation, different mating patterns, different ecological niches etc., they just don't do that unless brought into unnatural conditions (in this case, zoos). In biology there are many different definitions for species.

The concept of biological species is ultimately an abstract construction made by us, who only see a temporary glimpse of a huge genetic continuum in time. You might want to take a look at these Wikipedia articles:
Species [wikipedia.org]
Species Problem [wikipedia.org]

Re:Breeding? (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806744)

I think it's actually "they produce fertile offspring" -- horses and donkeys producing viable, non-fertile mules.

Contradiction? (4, Insightful)

shish (588640) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804874)

reproductively isolated and not interbreeding ... if you put them in zoos, they breed freely.
Does this not make sense to anyone else?

Re:Contradiction? (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804902)

It's clumsily worded, but it's fairly clear that it meant they don't naturally interbreed in the wild.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805044)

It's clumsily worded, but it's fairly clear that it meant they don't naturally interbreed in the wild.

So? I have not attempted to breed with Anna Nichole Smith, that does not mean that I am a different species.

Question, which was larger, the number of Californians wo ran for Governor or the number who claimed paternity of the child?

Re:Contradiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806086)

So? I have not attempted to breed with Anna Nichole Smith, that does not mean that I am a different species.

Are you playing dumb in order to make a joke or do you still not understand what the article is saying?

Because it says that Anna Nichole Smith would only breed with you if we locked you both together in a cage. I doubt any offspring would be viable.

Re:Contradiction? (5, Informative)

ferd_farkle (208662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804938)

Reproductive isolation is a major characteristic of speciation. Lions and tigers, horses and donkeys, etc are different species, but under unnatural conditions may mate and even produce offspring. Depending on how unrelated the species are, the offspring may or may not be viable.

Speciation is not as cut-and-dried as you might think. Reproductively isolated populations diverge more and more over time, and the speciation becomes more and more pronounced.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805110)

Does anyone know how long (on average) two groups have to be isolated for before they diverge sufficiently that they'll no longer be able to reproduce fertile offspring with each other? Is it tens of thousands of years? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

Re:Contradiction? (2, Informative)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805592)

I doubt it is a static number - it would depend heavily on the selection pressures on the two separated groups.

Re:Contradiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805710)

We recently had another discussion on Slashdot, seemingly unrelated to this one. Apparently, the difference in endured epidemics of retroviral infections of gonads, between isolated (or perhaps not even isolated) groups may result in reproductive incompatibility (unless it kills or incapacitate the whole group) with members of other groups.

It is not function of time passed, but a consequence of random events. It may happen often, or rarely. It may happen localized, or pandemic. Isolation makes differentiation more probable. "Keeping in touch", OTOH, like we humans do (and like we do to certain species that now get to visit their distant relatives, by freeriding our transports), makes extinction of whole parent species more probable.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805834)

Depending on how unrelated the species are, the offspring may or may not be viable.

Maybe you need to find other examples then. In ligers, only the female is viable because the X is comparable enough. We have no idea as to whether this viability extends past a generation yet or causes long term problems. Mules are sterile with rare exceptions.

Reproductive isolation is simply the first step, otherwise a simple catastrophe which isolates a group creates a new species and this is not the case.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804964)

Yes. That was the reason I posted this in my journal. Other examples:

races of humans: diverged thousands and thousands years ago, yet considered one species.

Domesticated animals: some of the dog breeds are so different in size, that they hardly can copulate... One species.

Another example: finches, that Darwin classified even into different genera, only later to be found easily interbreeding. (same finches that inspired him to his famous "origin of species" idea).

This is an example of pseudoscience, when scientists are under the pressure to "discover" something, read: call the same old phenomenon a new name.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806066)

The same reason why physics people look down on biology as a "lesser" science. Engaging in vehement debate using such muddled terms make you look like fools, not to mention confusing the crap out of the lay public. Like the stupid intelligent design debate which invariably sink to the bottom mud when it gets dragged to arguing the semantics of "species."

You biology people should give a good beat-down to those among you maintaining this archaic, nonsensical taxonomy, and sort the terminology out better - unlikely, I know, with all the vested political/economic interests.

Re:Contradiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806186)

This is an example of pseudoscience, when scientists are under the pressure to "discover" something, read: call the same old phenomenon a new name.

I don't understand all the constant attacks on science these days. Science is a process that leads to knowledge. It's not perfection, but represents the best ideas at for understanding the world. Science is constantly improving our knowledge of the world, but somehow people have turned this on it's head and are saying the knowledge provided by science is always wrong, becuase it's always contradicted by later improved. We've known for some decades that Darwin's understanding of evolution was very primative. Maybe you didn't know that, but I learned it in college in the 80's.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

Nephrite (82592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805294)

Well, maybe that means they prefer not to in the wild, but do it anyway when don't have choice in the captivity. Free will you know and stuff.

Re:Contradiction? (3, Informative)

pigah (695476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805596)

Most people are familiar with what is called the Biological Species Concept, which defines species as a reproductively isolated group of organisms that can all interbreed among themselves and produce fertile offspring. This works pretty well for most animals, but terribly for plants and many animals. Plants that are quite different can interbreed frequently, but do not because they are isolated by things such as flowering time, pollinator species etc... Then you get into weird intransitivity issues such as: population A can breed with population B, population B can breed with population C, but A and C can't breed. These issues mean that a species is not a very well defined thing anymore. There have been many attempts to unify what we understand about the biology of reproductive isolation and genetic differentiation into one species concept, but we are left with many different "species concepts". I can't remember them all, but many are based genetic differentiation. It becomes crazy because under some gene-based concepts you could be defined as a species for one gene analysis and not another. There is a new idea which may have showed up on slashdot that is called the genetic bar code and those scientists believe that there is one (or just a few) genes where a specific amount of differentiation in this area will define a species. They predict that they can create a machine that you can just put tissue samples in and have a determination of what species it is within minutes. It is a controversial line of research, needless to say.

Re:Contradiction? (1)

Chrisje (471362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805870)

"Isolated" and "Not interbreeding" sound more like an attitude than an incapability. Much like a (I live in Israel, so bear with me) Palestinian male will be "Isolated" from Tel Aviv and "Not interbreed" with his Jewish female counterpart (which is a shame, because there are a lot of hot chicks in this country).

Still, once you move 'm to Palo Alto on a tech salary and they become atheists, they might still not interbreed but bang each other to smithereens (and I mean that in the best of ways).

As another submitter has said, I think they mix up their "species" with their "breed", "group" or, dare I say it, "tribe".

Re:Contradiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21807156)

In fact, this is very similar to a phenomenon noted among homo sapiens. In their normal environment, like singles bars perhaps, they can be quite selective about who they mate with, (tempered somewhat by factors like blood alcohol content and proximity to closing time). However, put them behind bars and eventually anyone holding a bar of soap starts to look like a breeding partner.

Species or subspecies? (0, Redundant)

hlt32 (1177391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804906)

Something doesn't add up in this article. It's missing a few details.

The *definition* of a species is that the members of it can breed and produce *fertile* offspring.

The article could perhaps be mixing up "species" and another term, (perhaps "breed"?) or omitting to mention that offspring produced are infertile.

Re:Species or subspecies? (3, Interesting)

Azzmodan (96691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805266)

That would make tigers and lions the same species, since there have been fertile offspring. I'd say there's a lot wiggle room in the definition.

Nazi giraffes? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804922)

I say let's exterminate racist giraffes. Wait, we are already doing so. Let the killing continue. Only miscegenated zoo giraffes shall survive.

In related moves (1, Funny)

kaiwai (765866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804928)

After much debate within the men's community, there has been a decision to classify females as an entirely new species.

Confirming the almot accepted idea that men are from earth and women are from planet far away and at constant war every 28 days.

The definitive word on giraffes (1, Informative)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804970)

They call this science? Bah. Everything you need to know about giraffes is contained in this brilliant, revolutionary book:

http://www.amazon.com/Giraffes-Doris-Haggis-Whey/dp/1932416978

For example:

The legs of giraffes are filled with various types of fruit juice. You see, giraffes love drinking fruit juices - pineapple, boysenberry, mango-lemon - but their bodes have no real use for fruit juice, so it all trickes down to their legs where it stays and squishes around. This should have been obvious to you.

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806862)

Giraffes were created when Chuck Norris uppercut a horse.

Racist animals (4, Insightful)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805010)

"The female Maasai giraffe may be looking at the male reticulated giraffe and thinking, 'I don't look like you; I don't want to mate with you'," Mr Brown explained.

So, in short...the giraffes are racists unless they live in a "multicultural" environment (ie: a zoo)?

Now, where have I heard that before?

Don't assume... (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805210)

Don't assume this is a racist situation, based on spots arrangement or something so trivial.

This is obviously a division based on politics. I am sure once the primaries in the US are over, they will be down to two, three at most "subspecies" of giraffe.

I mean come on, would you want to mate with a Hillary supporter?

Re:Racist animals (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805462)

It's not racism. People tend to choose partners who look like them, in various obvious and less obvious ways. Ear shape, eye distance, and for most people, skin colour and 'racial' characteristics. This is Darwin's theory of sexual selection: human 'races' exist due to such selective pressure, not vice versa. In fact ethicities are just extended families.

Human families would diverge into separate species if kept in isolation for long enough AND if confronted by significantly divergent evolutionary pressures. For the last 200k years or more, all significant human evolutionary pressures have been technological, not environmental.

So we could see nerds emerge as a distinct species if they can find female nerds to breed with, and thus outcompete non-nerds. If a successful nerd family evolves a really useful new ability - like the ability to detect bullshit at a long distance - this would get spread into the new nerd family. Over time, enough such changes - hundreds of thousands, probably - affect the DNA enough to break new nerd to non-nerd breeding.

That, more or less, is what is happening with the Giraffes, except their specialization is the ability to recognize the right trees, remember which villages to avoid, and not to mess with the cape buffalo. The difference is not great enough to make them inter-infertile. It's obvious that a giraffe from family A is not going to want to breed with one from tribe B because (a) they are competitors, and (b) it'd produce less viable - specialized - offspring who would be sub-class in both families.

With people, interbreeding works great because we are genetically so close it's almost embarrassing. Our variation is cultural, above all.

Re:Racist animals (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805908)

People tend to choose partners who look like them, in various obvious and less obvious ways. Ear shape, eye distance, and for most people, skin colour and 'racial' characteristics. This is Darwin's theory of sexual selection: human 'races' exist due to such selective pressure, not vice versa.

Hmm, in theory it sounds reasonable, but in (human) practice "exotic" partners are preferred by many. "Hybrid" partners, those who inherit characteristics of both "own" and "other" race are certainly THE most liked. IMHO, only the social, cultural pressure and barriers, as well as geographic separation keeps humans from mating with other human races more then they already do.

I dunno... my wife IS of my ethnicity (well...almost), but she looks quite different then me and it positively influenced my choice. Women who look like my kin generally seem ... "plain" and "uninteresting". Married couples we know are rarely same complexion, same hair-color or same eye-color.

Re:Racist animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806250)

The usual answer to your (fairly common) experience is that we imprint on people we grow up with, who may not actually be family. Complexion and skin colour don't seem to matter as much as facial shape, body shape, etc. Beauty seems to be in the eye of the beholder, in this respect.

Put it another way, did your pre-marriage girlfriends resemble each other in any way?

Re:Racist animals (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806288)

That makes a lot of sense as well in a less competitive environment - it's worth keeping up the diversity of the population in order to be able to respond to changes in environment. If people were under much harsher selection pressure (as was the case through much of human history), you'd see much more of people staying within their groups.

Re:Racist animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806752)

> Hmm, in theory it sounds reasonable, but in (human) practice "exotic" partners are preferred by many. "Hybrid" partners, those who inherit characteristics of both "own" and "other" race are certainly THE most liked. IMHO, only the social, cultural pressure and barriers, as well as geographic separation keeps humans from mating with other human races more then they already do.

Are there any polls or statistics that lend support to this? It might be true, but it just sounds like you're saying it because it might be your experience.

Supports Gervais' doctrine (1)

Pythonian (1207512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805024)

I think this merely serves to prove Ricky Gervais' theory of scientists getting a per-species payment.

in that case ... (5, Funny)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805048)

the people of texas are a completely different species to the ones in New York and California.

Re:in that case ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805664)

The fact that these giraffes interbreed in captivity but not in the wild may suggest a more social or territorial element to their reproductive habits, as opposed to some purely genetic aversion/incompatibility. Not entirely unlike the one you describe above. Again, I don't know how much I really care when we are speaking of different SUBspecies with no real difference other than region and spot patterns.

Re:in that case ... (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805868)

The people of New York and California are two variants of a different species from the rest of the U.S.

Glen Quagmire.... (4, Funny)

mikerubin (449692) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805126)

Good Morning Baby..... ... ...
Hey wait a minute, you're not the same giraffe from last night !

Molecular (1)

ischorr (657205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805306)

Molecular Techniques? Is that like back in the 50s, when suddenly everything became associated with "the atom"?

"New, Fallout Man. With Kung Fu grip and the Power Of the Atom! (Note: Contains REAL ATOMS!!!)"

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21805974)

Everyone knows giraffes can be grouped into six category by the spot patterns on their backs, just like everyone knows how they came to us from Neptune on a conveyor belt, or that they love fruit juice and play with marbles.

Oh, Giraffes? Giraffes!, I love you so!

yXuo YFail It!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21806120)

future at aal the mundane chores

Zoos and desert islands (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21806710)

although the giraffes look different, if you put them in zoos, they breed freely
Wouldn't that be considered bestiality?

Breeding (1)

Braxton_the_Covenant (838765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21807108)

If they can interbreed and generate fertile offspring, as they obviously can, then they are obviously the same species, even if micro-evolution has taken them down different paths.

What this study may have discovered is the equivalent of the "black" giraffe, the "white" giraffe, and the "oriental" giraffe.
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