PORTSMOUTH, England, June 3 (UPI) — British and Canadian scientists admit their study doesn’t have much practical value, but they’ve proven — digitally — that giraffes can swim.
While most large animals are good swimmers, it’s often been said giraffes are unable to swim or wade. Donald Henderson of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada, and Darren Naish of Britain’s University of Portsmouth tested that theory by using a digital giraffe rather than a real one.
The scientists said creating a digital giraffe involved numerous mathematical calculations on giraffe weight, mass, size, shape, lung capacity and center of gravity, as well as calculations concerning rotation and flotation dynamics.
The authors found a full-sized adult giraffe would become buoyant in about 9 feet of water. Giraffes can wade across bodies of water that are shallower.
But they also determined that after becoming buoyant, a giraffe would be unstable in the water due to its long, heavy legs, short body and long neck.
“Our models show that while it’s feasible for a giraffe to swim, it … is fair to say giraffes might be hesitant to enter the water knowing they are at a decided disadvantage compared to being on solid ground,” Naish said.
While the scientists realize their research doesn’t have many practical applications, they said it does emphasize the point that computer simulations of animals — rather than real animals — can sometimes be used to answer interesting questions.
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