The giraffe has an extremely elongated neck, which can be up to 2–2.4 m (6.6–7.9 ft) in length, accounting for much of the animal's vertical height. The long neck results from a disproportionate lengthening of the cervical vertebrae, not from the addition of more vertebrae. Each cervical vertebra is over 28 cm (11 in) long.
This elongation largely takes place after birth, perhaps because giraffe mothers would have a difficult time giving birth to young with the same neck proportions as adults. The giraffe's head and neck are held up by large muscles and a strengthened nuchal ligament, which are anchored by long dorsal spines on the anterior thoracic vertebrae, giving the animal a hump.