Why was the Okapi called the African Unicorn?
The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is an African ungulate (hoofed) mammal in the Giraffidae family, related to the giraffe. It has chocolate to reddish-brown fur. Its legs have white horizontal stripes with white ankles. Its face, throat, and chest are greyish white. It has a long neck and large flexible ears.
The male has two short ossicones (bony structures) on its forehead, covered in hair. They are not horns.
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The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is also called the Forest Giraffe, the Congolese Giraffe or the Zebra Giraffe. It is related to the giraffe; it is a giraffid. It is a ruminant ungulate mammal – a plant eating hoofed animal. It is an artiodactyl.
The Okapi has chocolate to reddish brown fur. Its legs have white horizontal stripes with white ankles. Its face, throat, and chest are greyish white. It has a long neck and large flexible ears. Males have short ossicones (like giraffes) that are bony structures covered in hair – they are not horns. It has a long tongue.
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What is an ossicone?
Ossicone means bone cone. It is a cone-shaped nodule that looks like a short horn, but it is not a horn. Horns are made of keratin and ossicones are made of bone.
Giraffes have ossicones on their head. All giraffes have two ossicones, but the Rothschild’s Giraffe has five ossicones.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
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The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) is an endangered species of giraffe found only in protected grassland reserves in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. It is also called the Somali Giraffe.
The Reticulated Giraffe has clearly defined chestnut-coloured polygon shapes on its body separated by narrow white lines. The patched shapes can go all the way to the hooves, or just to the knees. It looks like the Rothschild’s Giraffe, but the Reticulated Giraffe only has two ossicones (like horns) on its head, whereas the Rothschild’s Giraffe has five ossicones, with one in the middle of its forehead. Ossicone means bone cone.
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The Rothschild’s Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is an endangered species of giraffe found only in protected grassland reserves in Uganda and Kenya. It is also known as the Baringo Giraffe or the Ugandan Giraffe.
It is the tallest giraffe and reaches a height of up to 5.9 metres (19.3 feet). It is an ungulate mammal, which means that it is hoofed. It has a long neck of two metres (6.5 feet) with seven vertebrae (bones) and a short mane. It has long thin, but powerful, legs about two metres (6.5) long. They can kick other animals to death, and they can run up to 35 miles per hour.
They also have long tongues of about 45-51 centimetres (18-20 inches) and big eyes, the size of golf balls. Their tails have a tuft of hair at the end.
The Rothschild’s Giraffe has irregular shapes on cream fur that are paler than Masai Giraffes. They have no markings on their lower legs. Their lower legs are white. Males are usually darker than females.
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The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) is an ungulate mammal in the Giraffidae family of giraffes. An ungulate is a hoofed mammal. It is related to the Okapi.
The Masai Giraffe has a long neck with seven vertebrae (bones) and a short mane (neck hair). It has distinctive, irregular, jagged, brown star-like or leaf-like shapes on its cream-coloured fur. The shapes occur all the way to its hooves. It has long, thin, but powerful legs. It has a long tongue and big eyes, which are the size of golf balls. Its tail has a tuft of hair at the end.
As it ages, the male often develops two calcium deposits, called ossicones, in its skull. An ossicone looks like mini horns. It is not a horn. It is a bony ossicone that is covered in fur.
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