Thursday, 3 July 2014

Giraffe legs' strong, skinny secret

By Victoria GillScience reporter, BBC News, Manchester
The researchers hope to understand how the animals evolved to be so "bizarrely long-necked"

Scientists have worked out the anatomical secret to giraffes' long and spindly - but strong - legs.

Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) of London found that a supportive ligament is protected by a groove in the animals' lower leg bones.

This groove is much deeper in giraffes than in other animals, and the researchers say this helps the spindly-legged giants support their bodyweight.

The work was outlined at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting.

"Giraffes are heavy animals (about 1,000kg), but have unusually skinny limb bones for an animal of this size," explained Mr Christopher Basu, the PhD student who led the research.

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