Though giraffes are some of the most noticeable members of the animal kingdom, their activity has somehow passed unnoticed in many ways by the scientific community.
A recent study suggests that science has underestimated those majestic creatures.
Zoe Muller, an ethologist of the University of Bristol, said:
“It is baffling to me that such a large, iconic and charismatic African species has been understudied for so long.”
Up until two decades ago, giraffes had often been described as “socially aloof.”
A 1991 study went as far as describing the species as “forming no lasting bonds with its fellows and associating in the most casual way.”
Though giraffes are known to roam around in herds, it appears that individual giraffes are perpetually changing their alliances, which led the researchers to the conclusion that they don’t manifest considerable social relationships to a more considerable extent than those between mothers and calves.
However, modern technology helped scientists turn that speculation around – Digital cameras and new means of analyzing data showed that the tall animals are socially advanced, more than they’ve ever gotten credit for.
Muller and Stephen Harris, a zoologist from the University of Bristol, reviewed a total of over 400 studies analyzing the social behaviour of giraffes.
They found proof that, while solitary exemplars are a common sight, giraffes can also stick together in small groups of three to nine animals. That often translated to related adult female pairs, part of which have been seen together for over half a decade.
Also, mothers have been seen with their children in relationships lasting for over 15 years.
The groups can span over three generations of related individuals, in which adults can help raise other mothers’ calves and have even been observed mourning over the death of other giraffes’ calves.