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Palaeontology

Extinct giraffe was a huge beast

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An extinct relative of the giraffe that lived more than 1 million years ago weighed up to 1,800 kilograms, making it one of the largest cloven-hoofed mammals ever to have existed.

Credit: Basu et al./Biol. Lett./CC-BY-4.0

Remains of the relatively short-necked giraffid Sivatherium giganteum were first uncovered in the 1800s, but until now, nobody had accurately estimated its body mass. Christopher Basu at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK, and his colleagues created a 3D model of this giraffid's skeleton (pictured), which indicated that it weighed between 850 and 1,800 kilograms, with males carrying heavy horns.

The team concludes that the creature was not as large as modern African elephants, as was previously suggested, but it may still have been the largest-ever four-stomached mammal, or ruminant.

Biol. Lett. 12, 20150940 (2016)

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Extinct giraffe was a huge beast. Nature 529, 259 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/529259c

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