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Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2011 Nov;153(11):515-9. doi: 10.1024/0036-7281/a000263.

A long life among ruminants: giraffids and other special cases.

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Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


In order to investigate differences in the relative maximum longevity and other life history parameter between ruminant species, we collated data on mean body mass, maximum longevity, gestation period and newborn mass in wild ruminant and camelid species. Among ruminants, giraffids (giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis and okapi Okapia johnstoni) have particularly high longevities, long gestation periods, and low intrauterine growth rates. A particularly high absolute and relative longevity is also achieved by the anoa (Bubalus depressicornis), a member of the bovinae (cattle-type ruminants) and an insular dwarf (inhabiting the Indonesian island of Sulawesi). The fact that some (but not all) other small ruminants also achieve surprisingly high longevities leads to the hypothesis that extreme relative longevities in this group are an indication for secondary body size reduction.

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