The Camel Family

  • Jessica H. Lewis


The second group of animals of the order Artiodactyla studied is the family Camelidae, which originated in North America in the early Eocene Age (40–50 mya). About 2 mya, groups migrated over land bridges to Eurasia and South America. Just 5000 years ago, at the end of the glacial period, Camelidae became extinct in North America. The group in Eurasia developed into suborder Camelus and those in South America into suborder Lama. There are several species. Camelus dromedarius is an entirely domesticated species of large, one-humped animals bred for riding or carrying loads and traveling long distances in desert areas without food or water. They are taller than horses and have long, slender legs with padded, flexible hooves that keep them from sinking in the sand. They walk like a boat on waves, swaying from side to side. Their bushy eyebrows, long eyelashes, and nostrils that can be closed keep out the desert sands. The hump stores fat that when metabolized produces water and CO2; this metabolic water can replace water from external sources to maintain life. For centuries, the one-humped dromedary was used to transport materials across arid areas, particularly in Africa. The two-humped Bactrian camel has long hair and lives in the colder regions of Asia. Camels are said to be “unpleasant, smelly, dull, and stubborn.” Even so, the females provide milk, the animals provide skins for tents and covers, and, in emergencies, their meat can sustain human life.


Alpha Granule Careful Husbandry Comparative Hematology Lama Guanicoe Human Range 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica H. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Central Blood BankPittsburghUSA

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