In a hot environment like the African savanna, staying cool is essential for survival. And giraffes have several clever adaptations to prevent themselves from overheating. Their large nostrils allow them to lose huge amounts of heat via airflow, while the dark patches on their skin act as ‘thermal windows’ from which heat can escape. Beneath each of those dark patches is an especially dense network of capillaries, and the skin itself contains enlarged sweat glands. On a hot day, blood can be redirected to the patches to be cooled efficiently by sweating, before returning to the heart.
Giraffes’ patches don’t just look pretty, they also help them stay cool