A team of scientists from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation discovered two dwarf giraffes during a survey of the giraffe population in Namibia and Uganda. According to their report, published on BMC Research Notes, this is the first time dwarfism in giraffes has been documented.
By measuring their skeleton, the team found that both specimens have unusually short legs while one had a shorter-than-average neck. An adult giraffe is around 16 feet tall, while the two giraffes observed by scientists were 9 feet 4 inches and 8.5 feet, respectively.
“It is mainly in comparison to other giraffe that [the] difference in stature becomes obvious,” said biologist Emma Wells.
In the report, the scientists concluded that the short stature of these two giraffes is caused by skeletal or cartilaginous disorders. This is a rare occurrence in the wild, but it was known to happen in other species.
“Instances of wild animals with these types of skeletal dysplasias are extraordinarily rare,” said lead researcher Michael Brown. “It’s another interesting wrinkle in the unique story of giraffe in these diverse ecosystems.”