Do giraffes have horns?

 

 

Giraffes appear as though they have horns, but do they really?

Although they look incredibly similar, the horns aren’t really horns at all. They are called ossicones and are formed from a different material called ossified cartilage, rather than horn. They are covered in skin and fur and both male and female giraffes have them.

Giraffes are born with their ossicones, but to avoid injury, they are flattened to their head and are not fixed. As they age the ossicones become more upright and fuse with the skull bone to secure them in place.

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Young giraffe’s ossicones are not yet fused to their skull

 

It is possible to tell if a giraffe is male or female by looking at these protrusions. Males are typically bald on the top and covered in very little fur, whereas a female’s ossicones are tufted and thinner in shape.

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Female
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Male 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photographs: Steve WilsonKateAndrew Gould