Why Do Giraffes Have Horns?

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Giraffes have horns because they are used as weapons during inter-species conflicts. Male giraffes battle with other males for access to resources, such as food, water or mates. While both genders possess the horns, the horns of males lack the tufts of fur that female horns bear. This is because the fur and skin are worn off the male’s horns as they battle with other males.

During battles, male giraffes swing their heads at each other, trying to get their opponent to yield and flee the area. The horns of giraffes are technically called ossicones. Ossicones begin as cartilaginous structures, however, over time, the cartilage is replaced by bone, and the horns become very hard and solid. The males of some giraffe subspecies grow a second set of ossicones directly behind the first.

Giraffes are the tallest living land animals, and some of the largest specimens reach nearly 20 feet in height. Giraffes have evolved long necks to see predators from a great distance and to reach their favorite food sources. Giraffes consume a wide variety of plant species, but the favorite food for giraffes is the young, tender leaves in the crowns of acacia trees. Giraffes need very large and powerful hearts to pump blood all the way up their necks and into their brains.