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"African Giraffe - Family of Four" Hand Carved Shona Serpentine Stone ~Zimbabwe!Product DescriptionA very intricately hand carved sculpture in a brownish serpentine stone titled "African Giraffe - Family of Four. Crafted with fantastic attention to detail This could be a great conversation piece by a fireplace possibly or on a table or bookshelf. Weighs approx 8.8 lbs. Measures 13.5 inches high 7.5 inches wide and 4 inches deep. Serpentine stone boasts an array of colors that cannot be described. No one stone is alike. The reason for this is the many mineral inclusions within the stone giving its unique color variation. The name "Serpentine" comes from an association with the characteristics of a serpents skin. Serpentine is the most commonly used stone because of the varying hardness for both master sculptors, as well as his apprentice. Serpentine rates between 2.5 to 5.5, depending on mineral inclusions, on the universally used Mohs hardness scale,a diamond rates at 10. Gallery retail on this would be in the range of $1000. Thanks for looking and helping to support the artists.GiraffeFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThegiraffe(Giraffa camelopardalis) is anAfricaneven-toed ungulatemammal, thetallestlivingterrestrial animal and the largestruminant. Itsbinomial namerefers to itscamel-like face and the patches of color on its fur. Its chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-likeossiconesand its distinctivemarkings. It stands 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall and has an average weight of 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) for males and 830 kg (1,800 lb) for females. It is classified under thefamilyGiraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, theokapi. There are nine subspecies, which are distinguished by their coat patterns.The giraffe's scattered range extends fromChadin the north toSouth Africain the south, and fromNigerin the west toSomaliain the east. Giraffes usually inhabitsavannas,grasslands, and openwoodlands. Their primary food source isacacialeaves, which they can browse at heights that most other herbivores cannot reach. Giraffesare preyed on bylions, and calves are also targeted by leopards,spotted hyenasandwild dogs. Adult giraffes do not have strong social bonds, though they do gather in loose aggregations if they happen to be moving in the same general direction. Males establish social hierarchies through "necking", which are combat bouts wherethe neck is used as a weapon.Dominantmales gain mating access to females, who bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.The giraffe has intrigued various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often been featured in paintings, books and cartoons. It is classified by theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) asLeast Concern, but has beenextirpatedfrom many parts of its former range, and somesubspecies are classified asEndangered. Nevertheless, giraffes are still found in numerousnational parksandgame reserves.EtymologyThe namegiraffehas its earliest known origins in theArabicwordzarafa(زرافة), perhaps from some African language. The name is translated as "fast-walker". There were severalMiddle Englishspellings such asjarraf,ziraph, andgerfauntz. It is also possible that the word was derived from the animal'sSomalinameGeri. TheItalianformgiraffaarose in the 1590s. The modern English form developed around 1600 from theFrenchgirafe.The species namecamelopardalisis aLatinword.Taxonomy and evolutionThe giraffe is one of only two living species of the familyGiraffidae, the other being theokapi. The family was once much more extensive, with over 10 fossilgeneradescribed. Giraffids first arose 8 million years ago (mya) in south-central Europe during theMioceneepoch. The superfamilyGiraffoidea, together with the familyAntilocapridae(whose only extant species is thepronghorn), evolved from the extinct familyPalaeomerycidae.The earliest known giraffid was the deer-likeClimacoceras.While the progressive elongation of the neck and limbs can be found throughout the giraffid lineage, it became more pronounced in genera such asGiraffokeryx,Palaeotragus(possible ancestor of the okapi),SamotheriumandBohlinia.Bohliniaentered China and northern India in response to climate change. From here, the genusGiraffaevolved and, around 7 mya, entered Africa. Further climate changes caused the extinction of the Asian giraffes, while the African ones survived and radiated into several new species.G. camelopardalisarose around 1 mya in eastern Africa during thePleistocene.Some biologists suggest that the modern giraffe descendedfromG. jumae;others findG. gracilisa more likely candidate.It is believed that the main driver for the evolution of the giraffes was the change from extensive forests to more open habitats, which began 8 mya.The giraffe was one of the many species first described byCarl Linnaeusin 1758. He gave it the binomial nameCervuscamelopardalis.Morten Thrane Brünnichclassified the genusGiraffain 1772. In the early 19th century,Jean-Baptiste Lamarckbelieved that the giraffe's long neck was an "acquired characteristic", developed asgenerations of ancestral giraffes strived to reach the leaves of tall trees. This theory was eventually rejected, and scientists now believe that the giraffe's neck arose through Darwiniannatural selection—that ancestral giraffes with long necks thereby had a competitive advantage that better enabled them to reproduce and pass ontheir genes.A 2007 study on the genetics of six subspecies—the West African, Rothschild, reticulated, Maasai, Angolan and South African giraffe—suggests that they may in fact be separate species. The study deduced fromgenetic driftinnuclearandmitochondrial DNA(mtDNA) that giraffes from these populations arereproductively isolatedandrarely interbreed, even though no natural obstacles block their mutual access. This includes adjacent populations of Rothschild, reticulated and Maasai giraffes. The Maasai giraffe may also consist of a few species separated by theRift Valley. Reticulated and Maasai giraffes have the highest mtDNA diversity, which is consistentwith the fact that giraffes originated in eastern Africa. Populations further north evolved from the former while those to the south evolved from the latter. Giraffes appear to select mates of the same coat type, which are imprinted on them as calves. The implications of these findings for the conservation of giraffes were summarised byDavid Brown, lead author of the study, who toldBBC News: "Lumping all giraffes into one species obscures the reality that some kinds of giraffe are on the brink. Some of these populations number only a few hundred individuals and need immediate protection."Giraffe subspecies are distinguished by their coat patterns. Thereticulated and Maasai giraffe represent two extremes of giraffe patch shapes. The former has neatly shaped patches while the latter has jagged ones. There are also differences in the width of the lines separating the patches. The West African giraffe has thick lines while the Nubian and reticulated giraffe have thin ones. The former also has a lighter coat pelage than other subspecies.The West African giraffe is more closely related to the Rothchild and reticulated giraffe than the Kordofan giraffe. Its ancestor may have migrated from eastern to northern Africa and then to its current range with the development of the Sahara desert. At its largest,Lake Chadmay have acted as a barrier to West African and Kordofangiraffes during theHolocene.Appearance and anatomyh sexes have prominent horn-like structures calledossicones, which are formed from ossifiedcartilage, covered in skin and fused to the skull at theparietal bones. Beingvascularized, the ossicones may have a role in thermoregulation. Appearance is a reliable guide to the sex or age of a giraffe: the ossicones of females andyoung are thin and display tufts of hair on top, whereas those of adult males end in knobs and tend to be bald on top. There is also a median lump, which is more prominent in males, at the front of theskull. Males developcalciumdeposits that form bumps on their skulls as they age. A giraffe's skull is lightened by multiplesinuses. However, as males age, their skulls become heavier and more club-like, helping them become more dominant in combat. The upper jaw has a groovedpalateand lacks front teeth. The giraffe'smolarshave a rougher surface than those of some other mammals.Skull and ossiconesThe coat has dark blotches or patches (which can be orange,chestnut, brown or nearly black on color separated by light hair (usually white orcreamin color. Male giraffes become darker as they age. The coat pattern serves ascamouflage, allowing it to blend in the light and shade patterns of savannawoodlands. The skin underneath the dark areas may serve as windows forthermoregulation, being sites for complex blood vessel systems and large sweat glands. Each individual giraffe has a unique coat pattern.The skin of a giraffe is mostly gray. It is also thick and allows them to run through thorn bush withoutbeing punctured. Their fur may serve as a chemical defence, as it is full of parasite repellents that give the animal a characteristic scent. There are at least eleven mainaromaticchemicals in the fur, althoughindoleand3-methylindoleare responsible for most of the smell. Because the males have a stronger odor than thefemales, it is suspected that it also has a sexual function. Along the animal's neck is a mane made of short, erect hairs. The 1 m (3.3 ft) tail ends in a long, dark tuft of hair and is used as a defense against insects.Legs, locomotion and postureThe front and back legs of a giraffe are approximately the same length. Theradiusandulnaof the front legs are articulated by thecarpus, which, while structurally equivalent to the human wrist, functions as a knee. The foot of the giraffe reaches a diameter of 30 cm (12 in), and thehoofis 15 cm (