How long ago did it become extinct? Around 1 million years ago, the giant camel became extinct. How long did it live? North America was the home of the giant camel. Camels are known for their desert habitats in the Middle East and Asia.
However, it may surprise you to learn that they evolved in North America and originated there. There are fossils dating back 40 million years that show the ancestors of camels to be rabbit-sized, four-toed animals. Several species have evolved from these ancestors over the millennia, but only a few have survived. There were several species of these animals, the giant camel being one of them.
A dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) is the most familiar camel living today, standing 2.1 meters at the shoulder, 3 meters long, and weighing 1,000 kg. While that’s a big animal, the giant camel, which was at least 1,800 kg and 3.5 meters tall, would look tiny next to it.
Despite living in some of the harshest environments on earth, camels have developed a variety of adaptations to survive. The two species of camel living today, the dromedary and the Bactrian (Camelus bactrianus), have evolved to survive these harsh environments.
The giant camel: what do we know? How hardy was it? The America in which it lived may have been similar to the one we know today, but it was very different from ours.
There is no evidence the giant camel was as hardy as the living species due to the warmer and moister climate. Originally thought to store water, camels’ humps now store fat, allowing them to go for long periods without food. The giant camel’s hump cannot be determined.
Like modern camels, its vertebrae have long spines, but these may have been used for attaching the nuchal ligament, which holds its head up. Moreover, camels have a number of adaptations that allow them to live for days without water. Their body weight can be lost in moisture up to 25 percent before they are in trouble. Other mammals, on the other hand, die if they lose only 3 to 4% of their body weight.
Water loss is reduced by limiting the amount of moisture a camel loses through its breath and producing viscous urine. Other mammals experiencing dehydration find their blood getting thicker and thicker, straining their hearts until they are no longer able to beat. However, camels are thought to be able to keep their blood flowing even when dehydrated by having oval cells instead of round ones.
Water is the one thing camels greatly enjoy, and once they find it, they drink around 100 liters at once, storing some in cavities in their stomachs to quench their thirst. Giant camels were unlikely to have similar survival equipment.
One to five million years ago, the America that it lived in looked very different from the continent we know today, and much of the land was forested, albeit sparsely. Despite having access to the open American forests, the giant camel probably never went without water for days at a time.
Using symbiotic bacteria to digest tough plant food, the digestive system of the extinct camel was undoubtedly very similar to that of living camels. Most mammals would die if exposed to such extreme temperature variations as the giant camel.
Whether it’s -30 degrees Celsius or +40 degrees Celsius, their thick fur protects them from the cold and the heat of the sun.
A giant camel must have survived in the middle of a large continent with cold winters since the forested plains of Nebraska were much warmer 1 to 5 million years ago than they are today.
It seems the giant camel was no exception to the fact that camels can be short-tempered beasts, even though they are champion survivors. In the breeding season, when disputes over territory and females were common, these extinct species’ males probably used their well-developed canine teeth to good effect.
The youngest giant camel remains date back about 1 million years, and humans didn’t exist in North America at that time to hunt them, so why did they go extinct?
It is likely that climate change is to blame, but we do not know for sure. This enormous beast may have been squeezed out of existence by the cooling climate, as the open forest was replaced by grassland. Today, dromedaries and Bactrian camels dominate the Old World, while llamas (Lama glama), guanacos (Lama guanicoe), vicugnas (Vicugna vicugna), and alpacas (Vicugna pacos) dominate the New World.
Camel species originated and developed in North America, but most of their evolution occurred in Asia. Their ancestors migrated thousands of years ago via the Bering land bridge.
There are no wild dromedary camels left today. There have been at least 3,500 years of domestication (possibly as much as 6,000 years ago), and its use by early civilizations contributed to its population explosion and the taming or breeding of wild animals. Despite the harsh climate of the Gobi Desert, there are still many Bactrian camels in the wild, but their numbers are limited to a few thousand animals in the northwestern corner of China and Mongolia.
Camels walk with a pacing gait. Stepping together begins with the legs on the left side of the body, followed by the legs on the right side. In fact, this unusual gait is a very energy-efficient method of moving around. Despite all the side-to-side motions, the well-developed footpads of a camel counteract this instability.