Are Giraffes Born With Horns?

Giraffes are in fact one of the few hoofed animals born with horns. Both sexes have these prominent horn like structures that are referred to as ossicones and are formed from ossified cartilage, covered in skin and fused to the skill at the parietal bones. The giraffe’s upper jaw has a grooved palate and lacks front teeth, while their molars consist of the rough ossicones, which have lain flat while the giraffe was in the womb. These ossicones become erect within a few days after the giraffe is born.

Being vascularaized, these “horns” or ossicones may have a role in thermoregulation and are also used in combat between male giraffes. Appearance of the ossicones help identify the sex and age of a giraffe, with the ossicones of females being young and thin, displaying tufts of hair on the top, and adult male’s ossicones ending in knobs and tending to be bald on top.

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