Scientists have just announced the discovery of an ancient giraffe, a deceased relative of the giraffe.
The giraffe looks like a beast from the Star Wars franchise, with an exposed head and a relatively short neck, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Open, giraffes have gradually evolved their long necks over millions of years.
The animal is named Xenokeryx amidalae, based on the nickname of Queen Padmé Amidala, wife of Anakin Skywalker (also known as Darth Vader) in the Star Wars franchise.
In a study describing the animal, researchers noted that its head had two horn-shaped clusters and, more strangely, a T-shaped appendage rose from the top of the head.
The fossils found in central Spain are in a well-preserved condition and are estimated to be between 12 and 16 million years old.
“The new fossils that we have found are important because they allow us to describe new species that were never known about the ancestors of the animal,” said Israel Sánchez, author of the study. says a biologist from the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.
The fossils found belong to paleomercidae, an extinct family of ruminants that foraged from the Iberian Peninsula to China during the Miocene Period (23 million to 5 million years ago).
The fossils have enabled researchers to resolve a long and controversial question about the species. Previously, based on some incomplete fossils, some biologists believed the species was closely related to a deer-like animal called the Dromomerycidae, which once lived in North America.
New studies, which use both genetic data from live ruminant species and bones from live and extinct ruminants, show that X. amidalae is in fact closely related. than with giraffes. Based on this discovery, the team identified them either as a new clade or in a group of organisms derived from a common ancestor, which includes the ancestors of today’s giraffes.