The Darwinian story of how the giraffe got its long neck is perhaps the most popular and widely-told story of evolution. It is popular because it seems plausible: giraffes with slightly longer necks enjoyed a slight selective advantage in reaching the higher leaves of trees, and so over the ages these slight neck elongations accumulated, resulting in the modern giraffe. In fact, I used the giraffe story myself in my Mathematical Intelligencer article as an example of purely quantitative change, that natural selection possibly could explain, as opposed to the origins of new organs and new systems of organs.
Biologist and genetic mutations expert Wolf-Ekkehard Loennig has written a detailed, thoroughly researched, 100 page study “The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe”, which shows that almost everything about this popular story is either false or unsubstantiated. In Part I , Dr. Loennig shows that there is no fossil evidence to support the idea of a gradual elongation of the neck from the giraffe’s Okapi-like ancestors, and that the elongation required much more than simple quantitative changes: new features were required, for example, to handle the much higher blood pressure required by the long neck.
The English translation of Part II is now ready, here . In Part II, Loennig looks at many other details of this widely-told story and finds them also not supported by the facts. He discusses the alternative of intelligent design, and answers the charge that it is not falsifiable, and in fact concludes:
“…the scientific data that are available to date on the question of the origin of the giraffe make a gradual development through mutations and natural selection so extremely improbable that in any other area of life such improbability would force us to look for a feasible alternative. Yet biologists committed to a materialistic world view will simply not consider an alternative. For them, even the most stringent objections against the synthetic evolutionary theory are nothing but open problems that will be solved entirely within the boundaries of their theory. This is still true even when the trend is clearly running against them, that is, when the problems for the theory become greater and greater with new scientific data. This essential unfalsifiability, by the way, places today’s evolutionary theory outside of science…”
Apart from its importance to the Darwinism/ID debate, this article also contains much that should increase the reader’s appreciation for the giraffe. Dr. Loennig writes: “Whoever, after a detailed study of the peculiarities of the giraffe does not understand that it really is an animal species that is ‘altogether exceptional, novel, and specialized’ is someone to whom Lord Acton’s words may apply: ‘The worst use of theory is to make men insensible to fact.'”