Until now, scientists were convinced there was only one.

By Erika Owen
September 09, 2016
Getty Images/Panoramic Images

The world is full of secrets, and one more has been uncovered by researchers.

Contrary to popular belief among professionals studying the animal kingdom, there are actually four different species of giraffes.

Up until now, it was believed that there was only one, which was divided into a number of sub-species depending on the giraffe's geographic origin.

The BBC reports that the real discovery was that these sub-species have not cross-bred in millions of years, creating entirely separate categories of the world's tallest animal.

The fours species are:

  • Southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa),
  • Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi),
  • Reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata)
  • Northern giraffe (G. camelopardalis)

Now, you won't really be able to tell which is which unless you catch them on lunch hour, because the main difference among the types of giraffes is that they've adapted to different food environments.

Want to know more? Read the study published in Current Biology.

Erika Owen is the Senior Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.