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The Camel (Camelus)

Camels are an interesting mammal that probably everyone has seen in a storybook somewhere. Probably walking around a desert somewhere with someone on their back. But what exactly are camels, and what do they do?

Physical Description and Behavior

Camels are 4-legged mammals that have brown fur all over their bodies. They can be over 6 feet tall and weigh over 2000 pounds! TV shows often portray them as slow, but they can sprint at speeds for short distances up to 45 mph and can stay at a constant pace up to 25 mph. Their wide toes help them to grip the otherwise soft sands, preventing them from sinking.

Fun Fact: Not only can camels withstand drastic temperature changes of 10 degrees from sunrise to sunset, but they are great at conserving water as well. Water vapor stays trapped in their nostrils when they exhale, which allows them to reabsorb the water back into their system, These are two vital adaptations as camels live in extremely hot and water-scarce environments.

Despite what cartoons and media would have you believe, a camel does not store water in its hump. This hump is made up almost entirely of fat tissue. The reason for this is that their bodies are less likely to retain heat if the body fat is not evenly distributed, allowing the camel to survive over 100-degree temperatures. On top of this, they also do well in lower temperatures as low as 20 degrees F.

Camels can have a different number of humps on their backs as well. Dromedary camels only have one hump while Bactrian camels have two. The main difference between these two is that the Dromedary camels live in North Africa and the Middle East, while Bactrian camels live in Asia. These two species are also able to procreate, making a hybrid camel known as an F1, these hybrids tend to have larger single humps, and are faster.

Habitat and Location

Camels can be found mainly in very arid and dry environments such as deserts. As a result, they are found mainly in North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Indiana, China, and other countries near the equator on the eastern hemisphere.

If you want to know more about this herbivorous animal, check out the video below:

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