For around one hundred and fifty years students have been dogmatically told giraffes have evolved long necks by stretching them to browse from tall trees. Chinese scientists studying a fossil skull and vertebrae of an extinct “giraffoid”, have now come up with the new theory. “Giraffoids” are a group of mammals that includes living giraffes and okapis and some extinct giraffe-like animals. 

The fossil consisted of a skull and four upper neck vertebrae and has been named Discokeryx xiezhi.  Researchers found the skull had an unusually thick bony disc on the top, forming a horny helmet-like structure.  The vertebrae were also very thick and the joints between the vertebrae and the skull had a large surface area of contact. 

After carrying out some computer simulations based on the structure of the bones and joints, the scientists concluded the giraffoid used its head and neck to engage in head butting contests in competition for mates.  They suggest this behaviour is a variation of the “necking” behaviour of living giraffes who swing their long necks at each other when competing for mates.  They wrote in their research summary: ““Necking” combat was likely the primary driving force for giraffes that have evolved a long neck, and high-level browsing was likely a compatible benefit of this evolution.”

References: Science (AAAS) News 2 June 2022; SciTech Daily 7 June 2022; Science 3 June 2022 doi: 10.1126/science.abl8316

Editorial Comment:  Simple basic science question – who has or could witness this? As this creature is extinct none of the research team have actually observed the behaviour of this animal, so any stories about what it used its thick head and neck bones for are pure speculation, based on the evolutionary mindset that competition for food or mates explains the origin of new features. 

Let’s be honest! This new theory does not explain the origin of long giraffe necks any more than Darwin’s original theory of stretching to reach high leaves.  Headbutting behaviour in an animal without these features will not change any genes that control the growth of the skull or the shape of joints, any more than stretching to reach tree leaves will make genes for a short neck change into those for a long neck.  A thick head and large joint surfaces may be useful structures for an animal that wants to engage in headbutting and survive the experience, but only if it already has them. 

Scientists should stick to actual observations, and these are that living giraffes and okapis are well designed fully functioning animals, without any evidence they were anything else.  Extinct giraffoids, including this new fossil, are a reminder there were once more varieties of giraffe-like animals, but some have died out.  Another reminder that the world is going downhill, not evolving upwards.

Creation Research News 28 June 2022

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