Scientists Find Four Species of Giraffes

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As it uncovers for the very first time the genetic taxonomy [ research aimed at elucidation of evolutionary dynamics or phylogenetic relationships of microorganisms, and microbial epidemiology all rely on genetic typing data for discrimination between genotypes ] of giraffe, and indicates based on the genetics that there are actually four separate full species of giraffe. How cool is that?”stated Andrew James, a giraffe specialist at  the San Diego Zoo we interviewed, regarding the genetic discovery that  was made on  September 8, 2016, by the Climate Research Centre and  sponsored by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

 The researchers collected and analyzed DNA from skin samples representing 190 giraffes from across Africa, the first such analysis to include data from all nine formerly accepted subspecies, according to

“ This will not change the way that we feed the giraffes but it can possibly change in the future,” stated James. “Some like the northern and regulated  have  only a few thousand left in the wild. Meaning they are now some of the most endangered large mammals on the planet.”


“Three of the four new species are in rapid population decline due to loss of habitat and heavy poaching. Some like the northern  reticulated have only a few thousand left in the wild. meaning they are  now some of the most endangered large mammals  on the  planet,” stated James.


Researchers split giraffes into four subspecies on the basis of their coat patterns and where they lived. Closer inspection of their genes, however, revealed that giraffes should actually be divided into four distinct lineages that don’t interbreed in the wild, researchers report on September 8, in Current Biology. The study tracked the distribution of 7 specific genetic sequences, according to


Over the past 30 years, giraffe numbers have dropped to about 90,000 individuals from about 150,000. Right now, there are only about 4,750 northern giraffes and 8,700 reticulated giraffes are known to exist. The population of the giraffe has long been declining because the skin of the giraffe is used for clothing items and in some countries like Tanzania, the hunt is driven by beliefs that some parts of the animal can treat HIV infection, according to


James believes that this new information can be very beneficial for long term positive effects. He predicts, “With this new knowledge it will help direct future research and protection for these icons of the savanna.”


At the San Diego Zoo you can view the giraffes. “Between the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park you can see three of the four species of giraffe. You can see the Maasai Giraffe, the reticulated giraffe and  the  northern giraffe,” James explained.