One of the most interesting animals in the world is the camel. The name camel comes from the Greek kámēlos from the Hebrew 'Gamal' or Arabic 'Jamal'. Camels are called ungulates, which means hoofed animals. They are even-toed. There are several groups of these types of mammals whose weight is equally distributed by the third and fourth toes as they move around. Their habitat is mostly the dry desert areas of western Asia and central and East Asia.
The two main species of camel are called the Dromedary Camel (or Arabian Camel) and the Bactrian Camel. The Dromedary Camel has a single hump and usually dwells in warmer climates, and the Bactrian Camel has two humps and dwells in rugged cold climates.
Based on fossil evidence, it has been learned that the ancestors of modern camels evolved in North America during a geologic time-period called the Palaeogene period which lasted about 42 million years, when other mammals also evolved, and later the camels spread to Asia. There are now about 14 million Dromedary camels alive that are domesticated, meaning they are trained, mostly living in Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania and nearby countries. There are only about 1.4 million Bactrian camels. Both are used for milk, meat, and as a working animal.
Camels are quite large, standing about 6 feet at the shoulders and 7 feet at the hump and can weigh between 880 to 1,300 pounds. Despite their size, they can run up to 40 miles per hour in short bursts and stay running about 25 miles per hour during longer distances. Camels are herbivores meaning they do not eat meat. The average life span of a camel is between 30 and 60 years.
Of course, camels are very well known for their humps which can rise about 30 inches out of their bodies. Contrary to popular belief, camels do not store water in their humps, though they do serve an important purpose for the camel. The humps are a reservoir of fatty tissue, but the water is stored in their blood. When the fatty tissue is metabolized it becomes a source of energy, and it allows the camel to survive about two weeks without water and up to one month without food.
Other features of camels include kidneys which are very efficient, with urine released as thick as syrup and its feces so dry it can be used to fuel fires. They can also withstand changes in body temperature and it ranges from 93°F at night up to 104°F in the day. They begin to sweat at higher temperatures, and this allows them to conserve nearly 4 gallons of water a day. In addition, a large amount of water vapor is trapped when they exhale through their nostrils and returned as body fluids.
The thick coat of camels reflect sunlight, and a shaved camel must sweat 50% more to avoid overheating. The coat also insulates them from the intense heat that radiates from the hot desert sand, and with their long legs, they can stay farther away from the ground, plus their feet are very tough so they can endure the hot desert. And though there is little water in the desert, a camel does know how to swim. Finally, camel's mouth is sturdy, and they can chew thorny desert plants. They have long eyelashes and ear hairs, and together with closeable nostrils, they form an effective barrier against sand. A camel's widened feet help prevent it from sinking into the sand.
Camels, though popular because of their humps, are one of the most unique mammals in the world.
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