Giraffes are the largest extant ruminant, and also the tallest living terrestrial mammals in the world. The IUCN generally consider giraffes to be a single species (Giraffa camelopardalis) with numerous subspecies (some speculate that there are eight subspecies). The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GFC) has classified giraffes into 4 species and 5 subspecies. Today, GFC classification is the most accepted method of giraffe taxonomy.
One of the most distinguishing features of the giraffe is its exceptionally long neck. And just like humans and most other mammals, giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae (or neck bones). Moreover, giraffes have horn-like projections on the top of their head called ossicones. This structure is similar to the horns of cattle, but are made of ossified cartilage instead of living bone (subcutaneous connective tissue that later fuse to the underlying frontal bone).
Giraffes have a distinct pattern on its coat, with each individual having spots which are unique from other individuals. Hence, we can relate the spots on giraffes to our fingerprints. However, to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between individuals or even subspecies.
Scientific Names of Giraffe Species and Subspecies
Please note, the classification used here is as per the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
- Northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
- Nubian Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis)
- Kordofan Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum)
- West African Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta)
- Southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa)
- Angolan Giraffe (Giraffa giraffa angolensis)
- South African Giraffe (Giraffa giraffa giraffa)
- Masai giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi)
- Reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata)
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Frequently Asked Questions on Scientific Name of Giraffe
What is the scientific name of a giraffe?
The scientific name of giraffe is Giraffa (Genus)
What are the known classifications of giraffes?
The Giraffe conservation foundation recognises 4 species and 5 subspecies. Meanwhile, the IUCN recognises just one species and several subspecies.