Our curious minds may assume that giraffes and horses are related when we see them, but the reality is much different than we might think. One such intriguing inquiry is, “Are giraffes related to horses?” The short answer is no because they are different in size, behavior, personality & many other things that we will discuss below. At first glance, these majestic creatures with their towering necks and galloping strides appear worlds apart in terms of evolutionary origins. In this article, we’ll try to find the answer to the question, “Are horses related to giraffes?” & provide the differences that make these two creatures different from each other. At the end of the article, we can learn why giraffes and horses are not related. Let’s begin without any delay!
Are Horses And Giraffes Related?
Nope, giraffes and horses are not related to each other. These two amazing creatures belong to different animal families, with giraffes being a part of the Giraffidae family and horses belonging to the Equidae family. Although they may share some physical traits, such as their long legs and hooves, they have distinct evolutionary histories and genetic variances that set them apart from each other. Here are some differences between giraffes and horses:
At A Glance:
13.3 to 17.3 hands tall (4.4 to 5.7 feet)
4.3–5.7 m (14–19 feet)
700 to 1000 Kg (1543 to 2204 Ibs)
1192 to 828 kg (2628 to 1825 Ibs)
1.5 feet (0.4 meters)
8 feet (2.4 m) (243 cm)
36 inches (91 cm)
6 feet (1.8 m) (182 cm)
42 to 88 km/h (26 to 54 mph)
35 mph (56 km/h)
5 to 7 hours
4.6 hours per day
25 to 30 years
20 to 27 years
up to 2000 pounds
Giraffes and horses belong to different taxonomic families. Giraffes fall under the family Giraffidae, while horses are classified in the family Equidae. This fundamental difference indicates that they have along separate evolutionary paths.
Giraffes are believed to have grown from an ancient group of ungulates known as the climacoceratids, while horses are part of the Perissodactyla order, which includes other animals like rhinos and tapirs. These distinct ancestral lineages highlight the divergence between giraffes and horses.
Here are the physical differences between giraffes and horses:
- Giraffes: Giraffes are known for their lofty height, with males height up to 18 feet (5.5 meters) and females around 14 feet (4.3 meters). Giraffe long necks have a major physical difference between horses and giraffes.
- Horse: Horses are much smaller than giraffes, with an average height range of 13.3 to 17.3 hands or 4.5 to 6 feet (1.4 to 1.8 meters). Horses have a more proportionate body structure, with shorter legs and necks compared to their body size.
- Giraffes: Giraffes are known for their unique feature of having a long neck. On average, a giraffe’s neck can reach up to 6 feet in height and weigh around 600 pounds. Furthermore, they have ossicones, which are horn-like structures located on their heads.
- Horse: Horses have shorter necks that are well-suited for grazing on grass at ground level. Unlike giraffes, horses do not have ossicones on their heads.
- Giraffes: Giraffes are easily recognizable by their unique body shape. They have a sloping back and long legs, which are compatible with their height. Additionally, their legs are equipped with cloven hooves.
- Horse: Horses have a back with a more horizontal orientation and shorter legs than other animals. Additionally, their hooves are cloven. Throughout history, horses have been selectively bred for a wide range of purposes and are now commonly known as domesticated animals.
Coloration and Patterns:
- Giraffes: Giraffes have a unique coat pattern that consists of irregular patches of various colors, ranging from orange and brown to lighter shades. These patches are separated by white spaces.
- Horse: Horses come in various coat colors and patterns, depending on the breed. However, they lack the distinct patchy pattern that is in giraffes.
Head Shape and Facial Features:
- Giraffe: Giraffes have a relatively small head with large eyes and a long tongue that measures 18 to 20 cm. They use their tongue to grasp and strip leaves from branches.
- Horse: Horses have a more prominent head relative to their body size, with larger eyes suited for their herbivorous grazing habits. Their tongue is not as long or prehensile as that of a giraffe.
- Giraffe: Did you know that giraffes have a long tufted tail? At the end of the tail, there’s a dark tuft of hair that helps to keep insects and flies away. It’s fascinating to learn that the giraffe tail has one of the largest tails among land animals, with a length that can reach up to 8 feet!
- Horse: Horses also have tails of 1.5 feet long & the length and hair density of the tail can differ depending on the breed. However, their tails are not as long as giraffes’ and do not have the unique tuft.
Giraffe & Horses Similarities:
Here are some of the similarities between giraffes and horses:
Both giraffes and horses are mammals belonging to the class Mammalia. It means they share some characteristics, such as giving birth to live young, producing milk to nourish their offspring, and having a warm-blooded metabolism.
Both giraffes and horses are herbivores, which means they primarily consume plant-based diets. Giraffes eat leaves, buds, and fruits from trees, while horses graze on grass and other vegetation.
Both of these animals have hooved feet that are well-suited for movement on land. The hooves of giraffes are approximately 31 cm by 23 cm in diameter.
Both giraffes and horses exhibit social behavior and are known to live in groups. Giraffes can be found in loose groups known as towers, while horses often live in herds for protection and social interaction.
Giraffes and horses are both well-known for their running abilities. Giraffes can run at speeds of up to 37 mph (60 km/h). Horses, on the other hand, are known for their exceptional running skills, with certain breeds able to reach speeds of 54 mph (88 km/h), but their average running speed is 29 mph (48 km/h).
Are Giraffes Related to Horses: Final Thoughts
Exploring the question “Are giraffes related to horses?” takes us on a fascinating journey through the annals of evolutionary history. Although these two magnificent creatures look very different and live in different habitats, they both have their unique qualities. Whether giraffes and horses are related or not doesn’t matter, as both animals play important roles in our lives. If someone is feeling sad, they should try to ride a horse to feel refreshed. And if someone is worried, they can visit the nearest park to see giraffes and contemplate how these gentle giants live their lives.
What animal is closely related to the giraffe?
The okapi is actually the giraffe’s closest relative. The okapi is a forest-dwelling animal found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While it looks quite different from a giraffe, they share a common ancestor and belong to the same family. Giraffes and okapis belong to the Giraffidae family, but the okapi’s neck is considerably smaller than that of the giraffe.
What is the closest relative to a horse?
The closest living relative to the horse is the tapir. Tapirs belong to the order Perissodactyla, which also includes horses and rhinos. Despite their differences in appearance, tapirs and horses share a common evolutionary history and belong to the same broader group of odd-toed ungulates.
Can you ride a giraffe like a horse?
No, you cannot ride a giraffe like a horse. Giraffes have different physical structures and behaviors than horses, which makes them unsuitable for riding. Giraffes are not meant to carry the weight of a rider on their backs. Attempting to ride a giraffe can be very dangerous for the animal and the person.