Why do giraffes have long necks?

A frequently asked question is: Why does a giraffe have a long neck? Does it really have to do with being able to eat the leaves of tall trees? And of course it’s interesting to us what the DNA of this long neck is like. Nice questions. Now read what we’ve already found out.

The giraffe’s neck is on average two meters?

Giraffes have as many cervical vertebrae as a human. Yet a giraffe’s neck is on average two meters long and a human’s neck is only six inches on average. Recently, giraffe genes have been researched to find out why giraffes have long necks. To find exceptions in the DNA, the researchers compared the DNA of a giraffe with the DNA of an okapi. Okapis are closely related to the giraffe, so this DNA can be used as a reference material. The main difference between an okapi and a giraffe is the giraffe’s long neck.

What makes a giraffe unique?

Another important point that distinguishes giraffes is their cardiovascular capacity. The long neck also makes it more difficult to pump blood to the head. That is why the heart of a giraffe is extra strong and partly larger.

The study found seventy genes that are unique to giraffes. About half of these are known to regulate growth and development, primarily skeletal and circulatory systems. These two things are unique to a giraffe. Some of those genes work together to lengthen the cervical vertebrae. Humans have flat discs as cervical vertebrae. Giraffes have long cervical vertebrae, which lengthen the neck.

A mutation of one of seventy genes whose function is not fully understood in giraffes causes defects in bone and cardiovascular development in humans and mice. So it could be that these genes may be responsible for one of the giraffe’s unique characteristics.


Until now, the complete genome of a giraffe has not been studied. At the moment the focus is on coding the pieces of DNA for proteins. The next step is to also examine the other parts of giraffes’ DNA to form a complete picture. It is as yet unknown what the genes that are not related to proteins are for. Perhaps there is another interesting discovery here regarding the unique features that make a giraffe a giraffe.

An answer to the question

So it is not very easy to give a complete answer to the question “Why does a giraffe have a long neck?” We like to learn all about DNA. You too can learn more about your DNA. Choose your DNA report now.