From the story of evolution, as explained by Charles Darwin, there are reasons why some animals possess certain body features. An example is a giraffe which has long neck than average. Globally, there are other animals with this similar adaptation.
Among the theories that explain why some animals have long necks is that of survival. Animals like the giraffe co-exist with other species, which are also herbivores. To survive in the same environment, giraffes have long necks to snack on food on top of trees that other animals cannot reach. This adaptation helps to minimize competition for food.
Let us take a look at 15 animals with long necks.
15 Incredible Animals With Long Necks
Neck Length: Approx. 1.17 m (3.8 ft.)
Scientific Name: Vicugna pacos
Alpacas belong to the camelid family and are mainly found in South America. They resemble long-necked camels, but they have no humps. Alpacas have long, straight ears and long necks, approximately 3.8 ft. These long necks help them feed on top branches and also help them notice predators from far. Such predators include coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.
They are made up of two breeds, the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca, mainly feeding on tree leaves.
2. Black Swan
Neck Length: 2 m
Scientific Name: Cygnus atratus
Black swans are the largest water bird and belong to the Anatidae family. They have long S-shaped necks which help them reach submerged water vegetation like pond weeds, stoneworts, and aquatic vegetables.
They are mainly found in water bodies like lakes, swamps, salt lakes, and rivers in New Zealand and Australia. When threatened, they open their wings and erect their long necks to signify aggression toward any intruder.
3. Eastern Snake-Necked Turtle
Neck Length: Approx. 0.18 m (0.6 ft.)
Scientific Name: Chelodina longicollis
These carnivorous animals mainly feed on amphibians, small fishes, insects, crustaceans, and warms. As its name suggests, they have longer necks than other turtles. Its neck length can measure 60% more than its shell length. Females have longer necks than males. They use their long necks to get closer to their prey before snapping them up.
They are classified as side-necked turtles, and they are commonly found in freshwater environments of Queensland, New South Wales, South Eastern Australia, and Victoria.
Neck Length: Approx. 0.24 m (0.8 ft.)
Scientific Name: Litocranius walleri
They are gazelle species mainly found in the Horn of Africa. They are long-necked and mainly reside in lowland areas and scrublands. Gerenuks are herbivores feeding on fruits, thorny bushes, shoots, and flowers. They can reach as high as 5-8 feet on plant tops. They also have modified lumbar vertebrae and wedged-shaped hooves to help them stand unsupported to browse on taller bushes.
And because they can graze on taller bushes than antelopes and gazelles, their diet mainly consists of succulent plants, which are very rich in moisture. So they don’t depend on water or green grass to survive. This makes them comfortably thrive in the scrublands and deserts.
Neck Length: Approx. 0.79 m (92.6 ft.)
Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus roseus
Flamingos are tall birds, with an adult reaching up to 1. 45 meters, and its neck can grow up to 0.79 meters. The long, S-shaped necks help them bend down and filter feed on brine shrimps, blue-green algae, Crustaceans, and more. They have twistable necks that can bend backward to groom their feathers.
They have pink wings and black flight feathers. They belong to the wading bird species and are mainly found across Asia, Africa, and Europe.
6. Scarlet Ibis
Neck Length: Approx. 0.21 m (0.7 ft.)
Scientific Name: Eudocimus ruber
Scarlet ibis are pink birds native to South America. They are medium-sized with long necks, down-curved bills, and webbed feet. These long necks help them guide their curved bills through the mud and shallow waters in search of food.
They are mainly found in marshes, mudflats, wetlands, swamps, bays, and ponds. The males are taller than their female counterparts. They mainly feed on shrimp, crabs, and crayfish. However, they can also feed on insects, frogs, fish, and small snakes.
7. Whooper Swans
Neck Length: Approx. 0.91 m (3 ft.)
Scientific Name: Cygnus cygnus
Whooper swans are bird species and are close relatives to geese and ducks. They can grow up to 1.2 meters tall, approximately 4 feet, and have longer necks than ducks and geese. The long flexible necks help them forage both on land and in water. The necks also help spot predators from afar.
Whoopers are herbivores and live in New Zealand, Australia, Chatham Islands temperate environments, and some parts of Africa.
8. Dromedary Camels
Neck Length: Approx. 2 m (6.6 ft.)
Scientific Name: Camelus dromedaries
They are also known as Arabian Camels. They are mainly domesticated in Afghanistan, the Sahara Desert, and the Middle East. An adult dromedary camel can grow up to 7 feet high and a length of 10 feet. They also have a distinctive humped back, short tails, and long legs. Because they have long limbs, they need a longer neck to help them bend down to feed rather than kneeling.
Neck Length: Approx. 2.4 m (8 ft.)
Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis
Giraffes have the longest neck of any animal globally. An adult male has the longest than the female and can have a neck length of approximately 2.4 m (8 feet), while the female can have 2 m (7 feet).
Giraffes are commonly found in Southern and Eastern Africa, especially in the drier regions where food is scarce. Their long necks help them to survive in these regions. They can reach the top of trees to snack on flowers and leaves, mainly from the acacia trees. Adult male giraffes can also use their long necks to help them fight over other mates.
Neck Length: Approx. 1.3 m (4.3 ft.)
Scientific Name: Lama glama
Llamas belong to the camelid family and are mainly found in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. They have slender bodies and can grow to a height of 5.8 feet. Also, they are the largest lamoid specie. They mainly feed on plants and grass. Their necks measure approximately 1.3 meters (4.3 feet). They have long legs, and their necks evolved longer to help them reach the ground when feeding.
11. Great Egrets
Neck Length: Approx. 1.2 ft.
Scientific Name: Ardea alba
Great egrets have the longest necks among their egret specie. They have long s-shaped necks to help them strike their prey through their sharp beaks. And they also have white-colored feathers on their wings which can stretch and are uniformly distributed.
These animal species are distributed in the world’s warmer temperate regions, mainly in the tropics of Africa, Asia, Southern Europe, and America.
12. Great Rhea
Neck Length: 2 ft.
Scientific Name: Rhea americana
Great rhea resembles emu, and they are among the flightless birds and belong to the family of Rheidae. They are mainly found in America, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Brazil. They can grow to a height of 5 feet. And its entire body is covered with feathers.
Neck Length: Approx. 1 m (3.2 ft.)
Scientific Name: Struthio camelus
Ostriches are the largest bird species, mainly found in the African savannas. They belong to the flightless birds commonly known as ratites. A fully grown male ostrich can measure 3.2 feet tall, and its neck is nearly half its body height.
An adult ostrich can weigh approximately 145 Kg (320 lb) and cannot fly in case confronted by predators. However, they have an exceptional adaptation to help them escape predators in the Savannah grasslands and open woodlands. They have long and flexible necks capable of turning at 360-degree to check on the surrounding for any approaching predator. Besides, they have an exceptional limb ability to sprint as fast as 70 km/h.
14. King Vulture
Neck Length: Approx. 1.2 m
Scientific Name: Sarcormphus papa
King vultures are large bird species feeding mainly on carrion and belong to the vulture family Cathartidae. They are found in the lowland forests in Central and South America, Southern parts of Mexico the Northern parts of Argentina. The long necks help them go through the carcasses to eat the carrion and meat.
Their necks are without feathers. In other words, they have bare necks, which prevent bacteria and blood from sticking to the feathers.
Neck Length: Approx. 2 ft.
Scientific Name: Anhinga anhinga
Anhingas are also known as snakebirds, American darters, or even devil birds. They belong to the Anhingdae family. They inhibit freshwater wetlands, saltwater, and brackish of the Americas. They have pointed bills with long, thin necks that help them strike their prey. They feed on water snakes, young alligators, shrimps, crayfish, and aquatic insects.
Most animals are adapted for survival. A good example is the long-necked animals that have the adopted so that they can be able to feed and even spot predators. Long-necked herbivorous animals can feed the top tree leaves; this reduces competition for food with other herbivores. The same applies to the birds. The long necks help them in feeding.