Camels are almost entirely domesticated, providing milk, meat and transport. There are two living species: the single-humped dromedary and the double-humped bactrian. The humps are not full of water as commonly believed, they are in fact made up of fatty deposits that still help with water storage, so camels can survive life in extremely hot and arid deserts. Being able to withstand long periods without water, and some extreme changes in body temperature, allows camels to survive in conditions that would be lethal to most other animals.
Scientific name: Camelus
A simple memory technique can help you instantly tell a dromedary from a Bactrian camel.
A simple memory technique based on a visual mnemonic can help you instantly tell a dromedary from a Bactrian camel.
The following habitats are found across the Camels distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back. The two surviving species of camel are the dromedary, or one-humped camel (C. dromedarius), which inhabits the Middle East and the Horn of Africa; and the bactrian, or two-humped camel (C. bactrianus), which inhabits Central Asia. Both species have been domesticated; they provide milk, meat, hair for textiles or goods such as felted pouches, and are working animals with tasks ranging from human transport to bearing loads.
The term "camel" is derived via Latin and Greek (camelus and kamēlos respectively) from Hebrew or Phoenician gāmāl, which has later been transferred to a verb root meaning to bear or carry (in Arabic jamala). The Hebrew meaning of the word gāmāl is derived from the verb root g.m.l, meaning (1) stopping, weaning, going without; or (2) repaying in kind. This refers to its ability to go without food or water, as well as the increased ability of service the animal provides when being properly cared for.
"Camel" is also used more broadly to describe any of the six camel-like mammals in the family Camelidae: the two true camels: the dromedary and bactrian, and the four South American camelids: the llama and alpaca are called "New World camels", while the guanaco and vicuña are called "South American camels".
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