Have you ever wondered why giraffes have actually those two small horn-like antlers on peak of their head?

Well, you have concerned the ideal place. This post will phone call you whatever there is to know about these “ossicones“, together they space called.

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Why execute giraffes have actually horns? The giraffe has an extinct relative referred to as the Sivatherium. This animal had two sets that ossicones, as they room really called. Superior sets of horn-like antlers the the giraffe inherited. The giraffe can also use them throughout fights to protect itself.

Table of Contents

What carry out we speak to the horns that the giraffe?What room giraffes related to?

What’s the objective of the ossicones on the giraffe?

The reality is that us don’t understand for sure.

It may really well be that the giraffe supplied to have actually something rather attached to the skull whereby we find the ossicones today. Similar to its ancestors together you have the right to see in ~ the bottom that the article.

Today the horns nothing really have a purpose. That being said, occasionally the giraffe will certainly use the horns because that defense.


If an enemy comes to close the giraffe can choose to waver its head really fast that periodically these small horns will help to knock the end the other opponent. The giraffe could look really calm and relaxed most of the time yet if girlfriend can acquire really aggressive as soon as it has to defend itself from enemies.

The horns can come in handy in distinct situations however in the day-to-day life of the giraffe, it doesn’t seem prefer they serve any purpose.

As you have the right to see further down the article some of the beforehand ancestors that the giraffe hat bigger horns on optimal of your heads. So one reason for these ossicones is that they have derived from their ancestors.

They are an extremely unique to the giraffe and also you only find them and one other varieties (more info further down).

Some giraffes have three ossicones. 2 at the ago of the head and also one in the center between the eyes. And as you have the right to see more down in this article, some of the extinct family members to the giraffe have actually four ossicones!

Here’s a picture of an afri giraffe from Tanzania photographed in 2012 during a safari trip. Notification the extra horn in the center, the a lot bigger than we generally see.


This is simply one the the numerous wonders in nature and we would more than likely never find out precisely why this type of giraffe has an extra horn.

But it sure looks cute!

How perform giraffes defend themselves?

When you take a great look at a giraffe it doesn’t look dangerous in ~ all. And you might wonder exactly how it can defend itself from various other animals.

The giraffe have the right to actually totter it’s long neck yes, really fast and hit an animal. In bespeak to defend itself, it deserve to actually knock even large cats the end so they come to be unconscious because that a while. This provides the giraffe an chance to operation away prior to the predator wakes increase again.

As the giraffe ferris wheel his head these little horns add extra load (and thus extra speed) to the swing. Therefore it might be an advantage for the giraffe to have them after all also though they could look funny and also not it seems to be ~ important.

We don’t think the giraffe offers the tiny horns directly to safeguard itself. They space covered through skin and are no pointy prefer antlers and also real horns. So us can’t really usage them come hurt another animal.

What execute we call the horns that the giraffe?

The real name is “Ossicones“. Words ossicone literally means “boney cone”. That bone tissue however it’s softer 보다 the hard form of bone we would find inside a foot or within the neck.

People speak to them every sorts that things:


The reason people don’t really recognize what to call them is most likely that the genuine name is really tough to remember and also articulate. Therefore it’s much much easier to just call them horns or antlers.

How come Pronounce the word “Ossicones”?

The very first part of words is pronounced choose the name “Ossi” and the last part is pronounced choose “Jones” v a “C”.

So once putting the two sounds together you speak ossicones.

Just favor that. So it’s actually very easy come say and also even youngsters can acquire it best after a try or two.

What carry out they feel like?

The ossicones space covered through skin so they room not prefer antlers. They are not hard like horns either.

They are made that bone and also as the little giraffe grow up castle will attach to the skull.

When the giraffe is born, however, the ossicones aren’t attached to the skull. We think the reason for this is to safeguard them native breaking and also doing damages to the tiny guy’s head.

When you touch ossicones they feel soft and also firm like the foot of the giraffe.

This is likewise one of the main differences in between the ossicones the the giraffe and actual horns. Because they space covered v skin and also are soft they space not like horns at all.

What room the “horns” make of?

The horns space made of “cartilage” i m sorry is a product that is more flexible than bone but it’s quiet firm.

It’s likewise found inside the human ears. For this reason it’s no antlers and also it’s no horned either. The cartilage material is actually no normally found inside horns but inside ears and softer parts of the body.

Outside the ossicones, you uncover a well layer of skin and fur just like we discover it top top the rest of the giraffe’s body. It’s interesting why the giraffes all have actually skin cultivation outside this ossicones, and also it may be a hint concealed here.

It might well be, the the giraffe’s skin started to grow and cover the horns, together they starting to disappear, as the giraffe evolved from that ancestors.

We will more than likely never know this for sure however when you take a most the pets below, i beg your pardon are carefully related come the giraffe, it would certainly make a the majority of sense. Especially when looking in ~ the big Sivatherium. (image in ~ the bottom)

But much more on that in the next section.

What are giraffes associated to?

As it turns out giraffes space not the only animal with ossicones. However we’ll uncover them top top one other animal today. It supplied to be a little an ext common a lengthy time ago, but these pets are die out today.

The closest loved one to the giraffe is called the Okapis.

As you can see listed below the masculine Okapi additionally have these tiny horn-like antlers in ~ the prior of the head. Various other than that it’s not really simple to tell the this pet is the closest relative to that giraffe. It’s a many smaller and also looks an ext like a horse or probably a tiny deer.

But The small horns provide it away: that actually carefully related to the giraffe!


The male okapis also have actually ossicones on your head.

The female okapis go not have actually these horns on their heads, unlike the giraffes. Because that the giraffes, however, you will uncover them on the males as well as the females. Nobody really knows why we will not find their horns top top the mrs okapis.

Besides the two horns, the okapi and the giraffe also have something rather in common: A lengthy dark-colored tongue. Castle both have actually a really characteristic tongue which feels funny. You might have checked out it in the zoo as soon as the giraffe sticks out its long tongue to grab food from your hand.

Giraffes sure room funny animals and also we don’t recognize why they have actually the dark tongue either. We are left guessing and also your guess could be as an excellent as mine.

Which other animals have ossicones?


As you deserve to tell native the names, these animals are extinction so we didn’t really treatment to give him real names.

The Sivatherium in reality looks choose the perfect mix between an okapi and a giraffe. And also when you look in ~ the head friend will an alert that it has actually much larger horns than the okapi and also the giraffe.

And this just can be the real reason why giraffes have actually horns. Because this old relative did have long horns/antlers and when it emerged into a giraffe the horn didn’t disappear. Instead, castle only flourish smaller and also looks prefer the people we find on the height of the giraffes head today.


The “Climacoceratids” looked a lot much more like the giraffes. They had actually the same type of ossicones together you uncover on the giraffes. Us don’t know for sure, together we only have old skeleton or reference, however it looks favor they are very closely related to the giraffes once we inspect the structure and also length that the ossicones.

The “Giraffe family” of pets are referred to as “Giraffidae”, and as us told you over we only discover the giraffe and the okapi today.

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We only uncover the giraffes in Africa top top the savannah. The okapi also lives exclusively in Africa but not top top the savanna. It roams the rainforest the Congo.