The tallest land animal needs no introduction. Watching these gangly grazers gallop across the African savannah is on many a wildlife-lover’s bucket list. While that lengthy neck – which can reach 2.4 metres (7.9 feet) and is the longest of any living animal – comes in extremely handy for reaching the juiciest leaves in the treetops and battling with rivals, it does mean that their internal biology has had to adapt in order to work around this feature.
A giraffe’s heart is huge – about 0.6 metres (two feet) long! – with thickened walls; this provides enough power to pump blood all the way to its head. Equally impressive, a complex network of elasticated arteries and veins near the brain stops blood rushing to the giraffe’s head when it bends down to drink so it doesn’t faint.
“A giraffe’s internal biology has had to adapt to work around its long neck”