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Quantitative macroscopic anatomy of the giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis) digestive tract


Sauer, C; Bertelsen, M F; Lund, P; Weisbjerg, M R; Clauss, Marcus (2016). Quantitative macroscopic anatomy of the giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis) digestive tract. Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia, 45(5):338-349.

Abstract

Quantitative data on digestive anatomy of the world’s largest ruminant, the giraffe, are scarce. Data were collected from a total of 25 wild-caught and 13 zoo-housed giraffes. Anatomical measures were quantified by dimension, area or weight and analysed by allometric regression. The majority of measures scaled positively and isometrically to body mass. Giraffes had lower tissue weight of all stomach compartments and longer large intestinal length than cattle. When compared to other ruminants, the giraffe digestive tract showed many of the convergent morphological adaptations attributed to browsing ruminants, for example lower reticular crests, thinner ruminal pillars and smaller surface area of the omasal laminae. Salivary gland weight of the giraffe, however, resembled that of grazing ruminants. This matches a previous finding of similarly small salivary glands in the other extant giraffid, the okapi (Okapia johnstoni), suggesting that not all convergent characteristics need be expressed in all species and that morphological variation between species is a combination of phylogenetic and adaptational signals.

Abstract

Quantitative data on digestive anatomy of the world’s largest ruminant, the giraffe, are scarce. Data were collected from a total of 25 wild-caught and 13 zoo-housed giraffes. Anatomical measures were quantified by dimension, area or weight and analysed by allometric regression. The majority of measures scaled positively and isometrically to body mass. Giraffes had lower tissue weight of all stomach compartments and longer large intestinal length than cattle. When compared to other ruminants, the giraffe digestive tract showed many of the convergent morphological adaptations attributed to browsing ruminants, for example lower reticular crests, thinner ruminal pillars and smaller surface area of the omasal laminae. Salivary gland weight of the giraffe, however, resembled that of grazing ruminants. This matches a previous finding of similarly small salivary glands in the other extant giraffid, the okapi (Okapia johnstoni), suggesting that not all convergent characteristics need be expressed in all species and that morphological variation between species is a combination of phylogenetic and adaptational signals.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:06 Sep 2016 14:54
Last Modified:21 Nov 2017 18:35
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0340-2096
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Sauer C et al: Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia, Volume 45, Issue 5, pages 338–349, October 2016, which has been published in final form at http://doi.org/10.1111/ahe.12201. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-820227.html#terms).
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ahe.12201
PubMed ID:27593556

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