If somebody asks you the question, what is the only mammal born with horns? You will probably answer that you have no idea because it is a weird question. But there is an animal born with a set of horns, and they are giraffes.
Giraffes have pair of horns called Ossicones. Their horns are different from actual horns and antlers. For a mama giraffe, the horns are flat and are not attached to the skull at birth. Their horns protect them and their child from having any injury. When Giraffe matures, the horns will fuse to their skulls.
The purpose of having these horns at birth is not fully understood. According to scientists, the primary function of having them is that they help regulate temperature.
Humans are also mammals, including many other animals. Horns are found on many mammals, and many animals develop horns with age. In warm-blooded animals’ horns are needed by them for different purposes.
What are Horns and Why they are Important?
Horns are an essential part of an animal’s body as they serve different purposes. They are needed for thermo-regulation and cooling. They also contribute to the animal’s natural biology and immunity. Animals with horns will defend themselves from predators such as wolves or dogs.
Horns are developed in an animal after they reach a certain age. They continue to grow throughout their lives and contribute to their overall health. Horns vary in different shapes and sizes. Animals in Africa have long and thick horns compared to Asian animals.
Some animals having horns are Oryx, markhor, Giraffe, Rhinoceros, Antelope, Blackbuck, etc.
Do all Giraffe Have Horns?
Whether a giraffe is a male or female, they have ossicones in one way or another. Their shape and sizes are different due to their age and sex. Females have thin horns compared to males with a tuft of hair poking out of the top. The same is the case with a young giraffe of both sexes.
The ossicones of the adult male are more prominent and thicker and usually have little to no hair on top. Other Giraffe species also grow small pairs of horns, also known as ossicones. Their horns are more like bumps than horns, and they are more prominent in males than in females.
There can be up to five ossicones on the head of the male giraffe. They also have an extra pair of bumps with the main set. They also have another bump which is right above their nose. The front bump is prominent in the male giraffe, but this feature is only found in a giraffe that lives on the northern side. Northern Giraffe is often referred to as the three-horned giraffe. Giraffes living in southern parts don’t have a prominent front bump.
What are Horns of Giraffe Called?
The horns of giraffes are pretty different and unique from other animals. They are called ossicones. The word ossicones derive from two words which mean bony cones. Their horns are made up of bone tissue, which is softer than bones. People use different names for Giraffe horns like horns, antennas, ossicones, antlers, bumps, etc.
People don’t know what to call the horns of the Giraffe because their different species have different types of horns. These different types of horns made it difficult to remember one name.
What are Giraffe Horns used for?
Horns of a Giraffe don’t seem large and sharp to look like a weapon. The evolution of their horns proves that these horns are very useful for them. There is no evidence of why they have horns. Ossicones are found in their distant ancestors, which evolved in shape they are today.
Many studies had shown that before the evolution of ossicones into this shape, they had big-sized horns for their protection. These horns don’t play a vital role in the life of the modern giraffes, but they are not entirely useless.
The bony horns add weight to the head of the giraffe and give them strength and weight. These horns prove to be helpful in hunting and during combat.
How does Giraffe Protect Themselves?
You feel safe when you see a giraffe because they don’t look dangerous. Have you ever wondered how a giraffe can depend on itself if they look so harmless?
The giraffes can also participate in the fight; they usually swing their long necks fast to hit an animal. They can easily tackle big cats and make them unconscious when they hit them with horns. This allows giraffes to be aware and run away from predators before they wake up again.
These ossicones help give extra weight when a giraffe swings its head and wants to hit another animal. Although there are no clear advantages of these horns, they help protect themselves.
These horns are covered with skin, not sharp like real horns and antlers. They don’t exactly hurt other animals, but they buy time so that giraffes can run away and save themselves from other animals.
What other animals are Giraffe Related to?
If you go through the list of animals who have ossicones, then the giraffe is not the only animal. There is an animal whose horns are just like a giraffe, but now that animal is extinct. The closest relative to the Giraffe is the Okapis. The male okapis have little horns that look like antlers at the front of their heads.
This animal is not like a giraffe because it looks like a deer or horse, but its horns are similar. The female Okapis don’t have these horns on their heads. There is no reason female okapis don’t have horns on their heads. In giraffes, both males and females both have ossicones on their heads.
Besides having horns that look similar, there is also another thing that can help you relate to them. They both have long dark-coloured tongues because it is unusual in animals to have tongues of this colour. Next time you visit the zoo, keep an eye when the giraffe sticks out its long tongue and try to grab food.
Why is Having Horn Important for Animals?
Having horns is essential for animals to survive in the wild. These horns can help animals in different ways.
- In some animals, having horns is important because they are needed to cool their bodies and thermo-regulation. They prevent some animals from overheating and keep them cool and calm during hot weather.
- Horns also help in the biology and immunity of an animal. Different studies have been conducted which tell us that having a horn might be a source to provide your animal with a good immune system.
- Horned animals are better able to hide and protect themselves from predators. For example, giraffes do have predators, and they are weak animals compared to leopards and tigers, but when it comes to saving themselves, their horns have enough strength to keep their predators away.
- Horns are considered a secure cage on an animal’s head. They provide strength to the animals and prevent them from injury sometimes.
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Article Research: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1381645