How Giraffes Became Winners by a Neck
Giraffes have taught generations of students how evolution works. Not directly, of course. Communicating through nocturnal humming is a barrier to classroom instruction. But the modern giraffe – Giraffa camelopardalis – is often used as the textbook example of why Darwin and Wallace were right and Lamarck was wrong.
The setup goes something like this. Think of a little protogiraffe gazing hungrily at some tasty leaves high up on a tree. Someone from the Lamarckian school of evolution, the argument goes, might assume that the little giraffoid would stretch its neck to grab the lowest of those high leaves and, through exertion, develop a longer neck that it would then pass on to its offspring. Repeat for