The Full Wiki

camel: Wikis

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


File:07. Camel Profile, near Silverton, NSW, 07.07.
Dromedary, Camelus dromedarius
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Camelidae
Genus: Camelus
Linnaeus, 1758

Camelus bactrianus
Camelus dromedarius
Camelus gigas (fossil)
Camelus hesternus (fossil)
Camelus sivalensis (fossil)

Camels are even-toed ungulates within the genus Camelus. The dromedary, one-humped or Arabian camel has a single hump and is well known for its healthy low fat milk, and the Bactrian camel has two humps. They are native to the dry desert areas of western Asia, and central and east Asia, respectively.

The term camel is also used more broadly to describe any of the six camel like creatures in the family Camelidae: the two true camels, and the four South American camelids, the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña.

The average life expectancy of a camel is 40 to 50 years. A fully grown adult camel stands 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) at the shoulder and 2.15 m (7 ft 1 in) at the hump. The hump rises about 30 inches (75 cm) out of its body. Camels can run up to 65 km/h (40 mph) in short bursts and sustain speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph).

Fossil evidence indicates that the ancestors of modern camels evolved in North America during the Palaeogene period, and later spread to most parts of Asia. Humans first domesticated camels before 2000 BC.[1][2] The dromedary and the Bactrian camel are both still used for milk, meat, and as beasts of burden—the dromedary in western Asia and in Africa north of the sub-Saharan savannahs, and the Bactrian camel further to the north and east in central Asia.


Distribution and numbers

The almost 14 million dromedaries alive today are domesticated animals (mostly living in Somalia, the Sahel, Maghreb, Middle East and Indian subcontinent). An estimated quarter of the world's camel population are found in Somalia and in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, where the camel is an important part of nomadic Somali life. They provide the Somali people with milk, food and transportation.

The Bactrian camel is now reduced to an estimated 1.4 million animals, mostly domesticated. It is thought that there are about 1000 wild Bactrian camels in the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia.[3]

There is a substantial feral population of dromedaries estimated at up to 700,000 in central parts of Australia,[4] descended from individuals introduced as transport animals in the 19th century and early 20th century by the Afghans. This population is growing at approximately 11% per year. The government of South Australia has decided to cull the animals using aerial marksmen, because the camels use too much of the limited resources needed by sheep farmers.[citation needed] For more information, see Australian feral camel.

A small population of introduced camels, dromedaries and Bactrians, survived in the Southwest United States until the 1900s. These animals, imported from Turkey, were part of the US Camel Corps experiment and used as draft animals in mines and escaped or were released after the project was terminated. A descendant of one of these was seen by a backpacker in Los Padres National Forest in 1972. Twenty-three Bactrian camels were brought to Canada during the Cariboo Gold Rush.


The karyotypes of different camelid species have been studied by many groups, but no agreement on chromosome nomenclature of camelids has been reached.[5] The most recent study used flow-sorted camel chromosomes building undoubtedly the camel's karyotype (2n=74) that consists of one metacentric, three submetacentric and 32 acrocentric autosomes. The Y is a small metacentric chromosome, while the X is a large metacentric chromosome.[6] According to molecular data, the New World and Old World camelids diverged 11 million years ago.[7] In spite of this, these species turned out to be conserved sufficiently to hybridize and produce live offspring (cama).[8] The dromedary-guanaco interspecific hybrid provided the ideal platform to compare the karyotypes of Old World and New World camels. , Jordan]] The cama is a camel-llama hybrid bred by scientists who wanted to see how closely related the parent species were. The dromedary is six times the weight of a llama, hence artificial insemination was required to impregnate the llama female (llama male to dromedary female attempts have proven unsuccessful). Though born even smaller than a llama cria, the cama had the short ears and long tail of a camel, and no hump. At four years old, the cama became sexually mature and attracted to llama and guanaco females and showed interest in mating with both. A second cama (female) has since been produced using artificial insemination. Because camels and llamas both have 74 chromosomes, scientists hope that the cama will be fertile. If so, there is potential for increasing size, meat/wool yield and pack/draft ability in South American camels. The cama apparently inherited the poor temperament of both parents as well as demonstrating the relatedness of the New World and Old World camelids.

Dromedary-Bactrian hybrids are called bukhts in Kazakhstan, are larger than either parent, have a single hump and are good draft camels.[9] The females can be mated back to a Bactrian to produce ¾-bred riding camels. These hybrids are found in Kazakhstan.

Eco-behavioural adaptations


leaves on a street at Guntur City, Andhra Pradesh, India]]

Camels do not store water in their humps as is commonly believed. The humps are actually a reservoir of fatty tissue. Concentrating body fat in their humps minimizes heat-trapping insulation throughout the rest of their body, which may be an adaptation to living in hot climates.[10] When this tissue is metabolized, it acts as a source of energy, and yields more than 1 g of water for each 1 g of fat converted through reaction with oxygen from air. This process of fat metabolization generates a net loss of water through respiration for the oxygen required to convert the fat.[11]

Their ability to withstand long periods without water is due to a series of physiological adaptations. Their red blood cells have an oval shape, unlike those of other mammals, which are circular. This is to facilitate their flow in a dehydrated state. These cells are also more stable[12] in order to withstand high osmotic variation without rupturing when drinking large amounts of water (100 litres (22 imp gal; 26 US gal) to 150 litres (33 imp gal; 40 US gal) in one drink).[13] Oval red corpuscles are not found in any other mammal, but are present in reptiles, birds, and fish.[14]

Camels are able to withstand changes in body temperature and water content that would kill most other animals. Their temperature ranges from Template:Convert/°C at night up to Template:Convert/°C during the day, and only above this threshold will they begin to sweat. The upper body temperature range is often not reached during the day in milder climatic conditions, and therefore, the camel may not sweat at all during the day. Evaporation of their sweat takes place at the skin level, not at the surface of their coat, thereby being very efficient at cooling the body compared to the amount of water lost through sweating. This ability to fluctuate body temperature and the efficiency of their sweating allows them to preserve about five litres of water a day.[citation needed]

A feature of their nostrils is that a large amount of water vapor in their exhalations is trapped and returned to their body fluids, thereby reducing the amount of water lost through respiration.[citation needed][15]

They can withstand at least 20-25% weight loss due to sweating (most mammals can only withstand about 3-4% dehydration before cardiac failure results from the thickened blood).[citation needed] A camel's blood remains hydrated, even though the body fluids are lost, until this 25% limit is reached.[citation needed]

Camels eating green herbage can ingest sufficient moisture in milder conditions to maintain their bodies' hydrated state without the need for drinking.[16]

A camel's thick coat reflects sunlight, and also insulates them from the intense heat radiated from desert sand. A shorn camel has to sweat 50% more to avoid overheating. Their long legs help by keeping them further from the hot ground. Camels have been known to swim.[citation needed]

Their mouth is very sturdy, able to chew thorny desert plants. Long eyelashes and ear hairs, together with sealable nostrils, form a barrier against sand. Their gait and their widened feet help them move without sinking into the sand.[citation needed]

The kidneys and intestines of a camel are very efficient at retaining water. Urine comes out as a thick syrup, and their feces are so dry that they can fuel fires.[citation needed]

All camelids have an unusual immune system. In all mammals, the Y-shaped antibody molecules consist of two heavy (or long) chains along the length of the Y, and two light (or short) chains at each tip of the Y. Camels also have antibody molecules that have only two heavy chains, which makes them smaller and more durable. These heavy chain-only antibodies, which were discovered in 1993, probably developed 50 million years ago, after camelids split from ruminants and pigs, according to biochemist Serge Muyldermans.[17]

The camel is the only animal to have replaced the wheel (mainly in North Africa) where the wheel had already been established. The camel did not lose that distinction until the wheel was combined with the internal combustion engine in the 20th century.[citation needed]

Camel farming

Camel cart in Punjab Pakistan

Over the past few decades camels have regained recognition for their food-producing potential in arid and semi-arid areas of Sudan. After having been dismissed as uneconomical by the Sudanese government, their vital role in supporting human populations in some of the poorest and frequently drought-stricken areas of the world has now been widely acknowledged (Hjort af Ornäs, 1988). The devastating African drought in 1984-1985 demonstrated that camel ownership can give pastoralists a competitive edge and an excellent chance for survival. Whereas entire herds of cattle, sheep and goats succumbed to the arid conditions, camel populations survived relatively unscathed. Consequently, some pastoral groups with deeply ingrained traditions of cattle herding, such as the Samburu in northern Kenya, started to acquire camels (Sperling, 1987), a fact which has come to the attention of development agencies and international organizations.

Military uses

Attempts have been made to employ camels as cavalry and dragoon mounts and as freight animals instead of horses and mules. In some places, such as Australia, some of the camels have become feral and are considered to be dangerous to travelers on camels. The camels were mostly used in combat because of their ability to scare off horses in close ranges, a quality famously employed by the Achaemenid Persians when fighting Lydia, although the Persians usually used camels as baggage trains for arrows and equipment. The horses detest the smell of camels, and therefore, the horses in the vicinity become harder to control. The United States Army had an active camel corps stationed in California in the 19th century, and the brick stables may still be seen at the Benicia Arsenal in Benicia, California, now converted to artists' and artisans' studio spaces. Camels have been used in wars throughout Africa, and also in the East Roman Empire as auxiliary forces known as Dromedarii recruited in desert provinces. During the American Civil War, camels were used at an experimental stage, but were not used any further, as they were unpopular with the men.



Camel milk is a staple food of desert nomad tribes and is richer in fat and protein than cow milk. Camel milk cannot be made into butter in the traditional churning method. It can be made if it is soured first, churned, and a clarifying agent added, or if it is churned at 24–25 °C (75–76 °F), but times will vary greatly in achieving results. The milk can readily be made into yogurt. Butter or yogurt made from camel milk is said to have a very faint greenish tinge. Camel milk is said to have many healthful properties and is used as a medicinal product in India; Bedouin tribes believe that camel milk has great curative powers if the camel's diet consists of certain plants. In Ethiopia, the milk is considered an aphrodisiac.

Camel milk, until recently, was impossible to make into traditional cheese rennet was unable to coagulate the milk proteins to allow the collection of curds. Under the commission of the FAO, Professor J.P. Ramet of the École Nationale Supérieure d'Agronomie et des Industries Alimentaires (ENSAIA) was able to produce curdling by the addition of calcium phosphate and vegetable rennet.[18] The cheese produced from this process has low levels of cholesterol and lactose. The sale of camel cheese is limited owing to the low yield of cheese from milk and the uncertainty of pasteurization levels for camel milk which makes adherence to dairy import regulations difficult.


A camel carcass can provide a substantial amount of meat. The male dromedary carcass can weigh 400 kg (900 lb) or more, while the carcass of a male Bactrian can weigh up to 650 kg (1,400 lb). The carcass of a female camel weighs less than the male, ranging between 250 and 350 kg (550–770 lb), but can provide a substantial amount of meat. The brisket, ribs and loin are among the preferred parts, but the hump is considered a delicacy and is most favored. It is reported that camel meat tastes like coarse beef, but older camels can prove to be tough and less flavorful.

Camel meat has been eaten for centuries. It has been recorded by ancient Greek writers as an available dish in ancient Persia at banquets, usually roasted whole. The ancient Roman emperor Heliogabalus enjoyed camel's heel. Camel meat is still eaten in certain regions including Somalia, where it is called Hilib geyl, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Kazakhstan and other arid regions where alternative forms of protein may be limited or where camel meat has had a long cultural history. In the Middle East, camel meat is the rarest and most prized source of pastırma. Not just the meat, but also blood is a consumable item as is the case in northern Kenya, where camel blood is a source of iron, vitamin D, salts and minerals. The camel is also considered a novelty in Australia - for example, a camel lasagne is available in Alice Springs).

) from the Miocene (Barstovian) of southern California]]

Health issues

A 2005 report issued jointly by the Saudi Ministry of Health and the United States Center for Disease Control details cases of human bubonic plague resulting from the ingestion of raw camel liver.[19]

Cultural prohibitions on consuming camel products

According to Jewish tradition, camel meat and milk are not kosher. Camels possess only one of the two Kosher criteria; although they chew their cuds, they do not possess cloven hooves. (See: Taboo food and drink)

See also


  1. ^ Scarre, Chris (1993-09-15). Smithsonian Timelines of the Ancient World. London: D. Kindersley. p. 176. ISBN 978-1564583055. "Both the dromedary (the seven-humped camel of Arabia) and the Bactrian camel (the two-humped camel of Central Asia) had been domesticated since before 2000 BC." 
  2. ^ Bulliet, Richard (1990-05-20) [1975]. The Camel and the Wheel. Morningside Book Series. Columbia University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0231072359. "As has already been mentioned, this type of utilization camels pulling wagons goes back to the earliest known period of two-humped camel domestication in the third millennium B.C." —Note that Bulliet has many more references to early use of camels
  3. ^ Wild Bactrian Camel, Animal Info
  4. ^ National plan sought to manage camel population ABC (2005)
  5. ^ Taylor KM, Hungerford DA, Snyder RC, Ulmer FA (1968). "Uniformity of karyotypes in the Camelidae". Cytogenetics 7 (1): 8–15. doi:10.1159/000129967.  See also: Koulischer L, Tijskens J, Mortelmans J (May 1971). "Mammalian cytogenetics. IV. The chromosomes of two male Camelidae: Camelus bactrianus and Lama vicugna". Acta Zool Pathol Antverp 52: 89–92. PMID 5163286.  and Bianchi NO, Larramendy ML, Bianchi MS, Cortes L (June 1986). "Karyological conservatism in South American camelids". Experientia 42 (6): 622–4. doi:10.1007/BF01955563.  and Bunch TD, Foote WC, Maciulis A (March 1, 1985). "Chromosome banding pattern homologies and NORs for the Bactrian camel, guanaco and llama". J Hered. 76 (2): 115–8.  and Graphodatsky AS (2006). Menninger J, O'Brien SJ, Nash WA. ed. Atlas of mammalian chromosomes. New York: Wiley-Liss. p. 547. ISBN 0-471-35015-X.  and Di Berardino D, Nicodemo D, Coppola G, et al. (2006). "Cytogenetic characterization of alpaca (Lama pacos, fam. Camelidae) prometaphase chromosomes". Cytogenet Genome Res. 115 (2): 138–44. doi:10.1159/000095234. PMID 17065795. 
  6. ^ Balmus G, Trifonov VA, Biltueva LS, et al. (2007). "Cross-species chromosome painting among camel, cattle, pig and human: further insights into the putative Cetartiodactyla ancestral karyotype". Chromosome Res. 15 (4): 499–515. doi:10.1007/s10577-007-1154-x. PMID 17671843. 
  7. ^ Stanley HF, Kadwell M, Wheeler JC (April 1994). "Molecular evolution of the family Camelidae: a mitochondrial DNA study". Proc Biol Sci. 256 (1345): 1–6. doi:10.1098/rspb.1994.0041. PMID 8008753. 
  8. ^ Skidmore JA, Billah M, Binns M, Short RV, Allen WR (April 1999). "Hybridizing Old and New World camelids: Camelus dromedarius x Lama guanicoe". Proc Biol Sci. 266 (1420): 649–56. doi:10.1098/rspb.1999.0685. PMID 10331286. 
  9. ^ "Hybrid Camels". Retrieved on 2009-03-02. 
  10. ^ Rice, Jocelyn (2009-01-05). "20 Things You Didn't Know About... Fat | Obesity". DISCOVER Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-03-07. 
  11. ^ What secrets lie within the camel's hump?, Lund University, Sweden. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  12. ^ Eitan A, Aloni B, Livne A (April 1976). "Unique properties of the camel erythrocyte membrane, II. Organization of membrane proteins". Biochim Biophys. Acta 426 (4): 647–58. doi:10.1016/0005-2736(76)90129-2. PMID 816376. 
  13. ^ Dromedary, Hannover Zoo. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  14. ^ Examining your blood under a compound microscope, Accessed June 7, 2009.
  15. ^ "A Pilgrimage To A Mystic'S Hermitage In Algeria - The". New York Times. 1981-07-12. Retrieved on 2009-03-07. 
  16. ^ FAO Camels, Camel information from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.
  17. ^ Koenig R (November 2007). "Veterinary medicine. 'Camelized' antibodies make waves". Science 318 (5855): 1373. doi:10.1126/science.318.5855.1373. PMID 18048665. 
  18. ^ Fresh from your local drome'dairy'? Food and Agriculture Organization, July 6, 2001
  19. ^ Bin Saeed AA, Al-Hamdan NA, Fontaine RE (September 2005). "Plague from eating raw camel liver". Emerging Infect Dis. 11 (9): 1456–7. PMID 16229781. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

A camel (camelus bactrianus)
See also camèl, and camęl



Wikipedia has an article on:



Old English, from Latin camēlus, from Ancient Greek κάμηλος (kamēlos), from Proto-Semitic *gamal-; compare Arabic جمل (jamal) and Hebrew גמל (gamal).





camel (plural camels)

  1. A beast of burden, much used in desert areas, of the genus camelus.
  2. A light brownish color, tan.
  3. Loaded vessels lashed tightly, one on each side of a another vessel, and then emptied to reduce the draught of the ship in the middle.


Related terms

See also


  • Anagrams of acelm
  • calme

Tocharian B



  1. birth

Simple English

File:07. Camel Profile, near Silverton, NSW, 07.07.
Dromedary, Camelus dromedarius
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Camelidae
Genus: Camelus
Linnaeus, 1758

Camels are mammals of the Camelidae family. Camels form the genus Camelus. They are also called Afro-Asiatic Camelids. There are two living species of camels.


Taxonomy and appearance

A dromedary has one hump on its back. A Bactrian camel has two humps on its back.

Habitat and adaptation

[[File:|thumb|left|200px|Camels in 2003.]] Camels live in deserts, where it is hot and dry. Camels have adaptations that help them live in deserts. They have a thick coat of hair that protects them from the sun. They have wide, soft feet, so they can walk a long time in the hot sand.

Several adaptations help a camel save water. When there is food and water, a camel can eat and drink large amounts and store it as fat in the hump. Then, when there is no food or water, the camel uses the fat for energy, and the hump becomes small and soft. A camel’s waste contains very little water. Even the water from the camel’s breath flows back into its mouth.

A camel has a naturally adapted thermostat - it can change its bodily temperature by six degrees Celsius either way. It has two sets of eyelashes, closing muscles in the nasal passages with slited nostrils, hairy ears and tough, leathery skin to protect the camels skin in vital emergencies such as a sandstorm. It has thick rubbery lips to eat dry, prickly plants and a large, haired tail to swat pests such as mosquitos and flies.

It has a long slender neck in order to reach high leaves such as palm trees, and rubbery patches on the belly and knees to protect the skin when kneeling and sitting on the hot sand. These form after five years of age.


[[File:|thumb|150px|A Dromedary mother and its calf.]] Camels live in groups, with one male, several females, and their young calves.


An unborn camel gestates about 12 to 13 months. There is usually one calf per birth. A camel calf can run only a few hours after it is born. Calves are weaned when they are about 1-2 years old.


In the desert, people feed camels with grass, grains, wheat and oats. When camels are travelling in the desert, food is often very hard to find. So the animal might have to live on dried leaves, seeds, and thorny twigs (without hurting their mouths). If there is not any regular food, camels will eat anything: bones, fish, meat, leather, even their owner's tent. Some people claim camels also eat sand.


Camels are ruminants. But a camel's stomach has three sections instead of four. Camels do not chew their food very well before swallowing. The first stomach stores the food that is not completely chewed. Later, this food (or cud) returns to the camel's mouth, and the camel chews it again. Then the camel swallows the cud and it goes to the other parts of the stomach to be completely digested.

Camels and Humans

[[File:|thumb|200px|A camel train in Africa.]] Camels have been domesticated by humans for about 5000 years. They are used for riding and to carry things, and for meat, milk and wool.

As domesticated animals they are used in Africa, Asia, and since the 19th century also in Australia. About 900-1000 wild Bactrian Camels still live in China and Mongolia. There are no wild Dromedaries anymore, but there are escaped domestic Dromedaries in Australia. Today there are about 50,000 Dromedaries living wild in the Outback in Australia.

A Dromedary and a Bactrian Camel can have hybrid children that are called Tulus or Bukhts. These hybrids are larger than the Dromedary or Bactrian Camel, and have either one long hump or one small and one big hump.

When a camel calf reaches one year of age, the owner often teaches it to stand and kneel on command. They also learn to carry small, light packs around. As they grow older, the size of the pack also increases.


Other websites

Look up Camelus in Wikispecies, a directory of species
Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address