Giraffes. Are. Amazing. Did you know a giraffe’s feet are the size of a dinner plate — approximately 30 centimeters across? Females use their hooves as weapons to protect their young, and they are strong enough to kill a lion. Giraffes also have four stomachs to help them digest their food. And did you know the distance from their legs to their hearts is twice that of humans, requiring much higher blood pressure and putting way more stress on giraffes’ veins?
Due to their incredible height – an average of 4 to 5 meters – the blood vessels in giraffes’ lower legs are under great strain because of the weight of fluid pressing down on them. But despite the stress on their veins, giraffes never suffer from swelling or ulcers in their lower legs.
They have determined the giraffe’s tough, non-elastic skin works like the anti-gravity suit worn by astronauts, preventing the stagnation of blood in their lower extremities. That inspired scientists at 3M to create a compression system to help treat a painful human medical condition called venous leg ulcers, which are caused by uncontrolled high pressure in the veins of the lower leg.
Scientists at 3M figured out that the giraffe’s thick and tight skin functions like nature’s best compression bandage, and they created a material that reproduces the properties of this skin to help humans. They took the elastic wraps we use when we sprain our ankles or wrists, and modified the material to engineer a leading two-layer compression system that mimics the skin of a giraffe.
Scientists are amazing, too.