Camels and llamas

The camel was and is an excellent transport vehicle in desert areas where horses and donkeys cannot survive. In deserts, camels can survive ten times longer than humans and four times longer than donkeys. They provide meat, milk, blood, leather, and hair, and excrements are used as fuel. The wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) is the ancestor of the Bac-trian or two-humped camel (C. ferus f. bactrianus). It comes from east and central Asia. The remaining populations live in the periphery of the Gobi Desert. It was domesticated by nomadic tribes, probably in the second or first millenium B.C. in Iran or in the Gobi Desert.

There is no known evidence about the wild progenitor of the dromdary or one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius). It was proposed that the progenitor could be the extinct Camelus thomasi, which lived in the interface of the Tertiary and Quaternary periods in north Africa and in adjoining areas of Asia. The one-humped camel was probably domesticated in 3000 B.C. in the Arabian Peninsula or in the steppe areas of western Asia. The oldest testimonies of domestic camels come from Egypt and the Sinai, 5,000 years ago. Almost 19 million domestic camels are bred worldwide, of which almost 90% are one-humped camels. They live in desert areas from the western Sahara to India and as feral populations in Australia, where they were introduced one hundred years ago. The two-humped camel is bred in Mongolia, China, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey.

Two species of camelids live in South America: the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) from semidesert mountain areas, and the vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) from high mountain areas. Only the guanaco was domesticated, perhaps in 3000 B.C. Its descendants are the llama (Lama guanicoe f. glama) and the alpaca (L. guanicoe f. pacos). The llama has been used as a transport animal, and for meat and wool, and the alpaca primarily for wool.

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  • Diana
    Are llamas donkeys and camels mammals?
    4 years ago

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