What Are Some Facts About Giraffe Anatomy?

giraffe-anatomy Credit: Volanthevist/iStock/Getty Images

Though the giraffe's neck contains only seven vertebrae, it measures over 5 feet in length. Special valves are located in the neck to regulate the flow of blood on its long journey from the heart to the brain. The head contains two skin-covered horns but can develop three calcium deposits often misidentified as horns. Giraffes have sloped backs because the back legs are 10 percent shorter than the front legs.

The coat of the giraffe is unique for each animal. Though all giraffes have brown, polygon-shaped patches, no two patterns are exactly the same. Large patches cover the body, and smaller patches appear on the face and limbs. The underbelly is completely free of patches. These patches provide camouflage for the animal as it stands near trees.

Giraffes have very long and flexible tongues that range from 18 to 20 inches. They use the tongues to reach leaves and twigs and bring them to their mouths. The food is chewed, regurgitated, chewed again and then swallowed. The food then travels to the giraffe's four-chambered stomach.

Giraffes are unable to trot. They must instantly go from a walk to a run due to their body shape and size. They are very fast, reaching speeds of more than 30 miles per hour in short bursts.