Natalie Angier in the New York Times:
For the tallest animals on earth, giraffes can be awfully easy to overlook. Their ochered flagstone fur and arboreal proportions blend in seamlessly with the acacia trees on which they tirelessly forage, and they’re as quiet as trees, too: no whinnies, growls, trumpets or howls. “Giraffes are basically mute,” said Kerryn Carter, a zoologist at the University of Queensland in Australia. “A snort is the only sound I’ve heard.”
Yet watch giraffes make their stately cortege across the open landscape and their grandeur is operatic, every dip and weave and pendulum swing an aria embodied.
To giraffe researchers, the paradox of this keystone African herbivore goes beyond questions of its camouflaging coat. Giraffes may be popular, they said — a staple of zoos, corporate logos and the plush toy industry — but until recently almost nobody studied giraffes in the field.
“When I first became interested in giraffes in 2008 and started looking through the scientific literature, I was really surprised to see how little had been done,” said Megan Strauss, who studies evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota. “It was amazing that something as well known as the giraffe could be so little studied.”