Sunday, September 16, 2012


Today there are only two living members of the Giraffe family-- the Giraffe itself, and the mysterious mountain-dwelling Okapi. But there were other Giraffes in the past, even as recently as 8,000 years ago!

Today's animal, Sivatherium, is one of those ancient Giraffes. Members of this genus (meaning "Shiva's Beast") lived in Africa and South Asia between 5 million 8,000 years ago. They had bodies similar to Okapis, but where taller and more heavily built. They also had huge, moose-like horns, along with having the small ossicones that the modern Giraffids have. They had very thick, powerful necks in order to hold up those heavy skulls.

One really cool thing that I learned was that human-drawn pictures of the Sivatherium have been found in the Sahara. This means that the animals were quite recent, but it also may unfortunately suggest that hunting was a major cause of their extinction (like many other megafauna of the time).

Status : Extinct for 8,000 years
Location : Africa, South Asia
Size : Height up to 7.4ft (2.2m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Giraffidae -- Subfamily : †Sivatheriinae -- Genus : †Sivatherium

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