Maths Formula Proves Giraffes Can Swim

Mathematics has proven that giraffes can swim – even though they wouldn’t be very good at it and nobody has ever seen them do it. Whereas most large animal are extremely good swimmers, it has often been said that giraffes are unable to swim or wade.The authors of the new study hoped to test this oft-quoted theory by using a digital giraffe rather than a real one.

Dr Donald Henderson, of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Canada, and Dr Darren Naish, of the University of Portsmouth, decided to investigate whether or not giraffes could swim after Dr Naish took part in an online debate on the subject.In previous work, Dr Henderson had created a digital model of a giraffe, and had also tested the buoyancy of various computer generated models of animals.The new study, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, examines what happened when scientists placed a ‘digital giraffe’ in ‘digital water’.

Dr Naish said: “Many previous studies have claimed that giraffes cannot swim and that they avoid water like the plague, even in an emergency, but we wanted to put the theory to the test in proper controlled experiments.”Creating a digital giraffe involved numerous calculations on weight, mass, size, shape, lung capacity and centre of gravity.Calculations were made to discover rotation dynamics, flotation dynamics and the external surface area of both a giraffe and – for control purposes – a horse.
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