Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Making Yourself Taller

In life, things often seem as if they are out of reach.  Sometimes, this is true, and you need a ladder or something to help you.  In the wild, however, animals don't have access to conventional ladders.  So what do they do to get there?  Some animals become adapted to climbing, like those that live in forests (arboreal animals).  Other animals don't want to sacrifice a ground-dwelling life style for an arboreal one.  These animals must somehow make themselves taller.

Lots of different animals make themselves taller, by many different means.  Some animals simply grow bigger, like the giraffe and the long-necked dinosaurs (sauropods).  With their long necks, these animals can reach vegetation that is a great deal higher than most animals can reach.  Other animals put special things on their feet to make themselves taller called shoes.  Some of these shoes, known to scientists as "high-heels," are apparently designed to put the girl at optimal kissing height (a fact that I learned about from a friend of mine just a few days ago).  And finally, some animals simply stand up.

Like the gerenuk.  This interesting African antelope is one of my favorites!  As you can see in the picture below, the gerenuk, in order to access vegetation on a higher plane than most animals can, will rear up so it is supported solely by its back two legs, and feed from there.  Many paleontologists hypothesize that the sauropods could also do something similar, as supported by the fact that Apatosaurus babies would run solely on their back feet to keep up with the rest of the herd.
Gerenuk standing on their back legs to access higher vegetation at the Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World in Florida.  Photo Credit: Julie Neher

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