Ancestors of Desert Camels Roamed the Arctic 3.5 Million Years Ago

ancient camel, giant camels, Arctic, camel milk, Julius Csotonyi, An artist’s impression of the Arctic camel. Illustration by Julius Csotonyi via The Guardian

Millions of years ago, the ancestor of modern-day camels once roamed the Arctic, according to scientists from the Canadian Museum of Nature. While working in Ellesmere, a cold and unforgiving place that lies within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Dr Natali Rybczynski discovered what she at first thought might be a piece of wood.

Upon further analysis using collagen fingerprinting, a rigorous new tool more powerful than DNA fingerprinting, Dr Rybczynski realized that she had discovered bone fragments of a giant camel thought to be 3.5 million years old and roughly 30 percent larger than modern camels, The Guardian reports.

Scientists have long suspected that the same qualities that allow modern camels to thrive in desert environments – their energy-storing hump, wide feet and big eyes made them well suited to cold environments as well, according to a recent article published in The Guardian.

“However, it was the analysis of the collagen attached to the bones that provided proof that these once belonged to the family Paracamelus, from which all modern camels are descended,” the paper reports.

The results published in Nature Communications reveal that the collagen of the ancient, giant camel, is almost identical to that of the one-humped camel whose virtues we consistently laud on Green Prophet.

Albeit cold, the Arctic was warmer 3.5 million years ago than it is now, and scientists believe the camel evolved in North America before wandering to Asia across a land bridge linking Alaska and Russia.

Today camels are an Arab man (and woman’s) best friend. In addition to providing a healthy alternative to cow’s milk and a host of other ‘services’, they are a source of inspiration for biomimicry – a design discipline that looks to nature for adaptation clues.

In Australia camels are somewhat less popular, and the government has embarked on a series of culling exercise to cut down the number of feral animals roaming the Outback.

:: The Guardian

2 thoughts on “Ancestors of Desert Camels Roamed the Arctic 3.5 Million Years Ago

  1. Maurice

    I wonder how these beasts found their way to the Middle East? If the Arctic was warmer then that means there wasn’t much of an ice cap then, like there isn’t now. 3.5 million years is way after the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

    Reply

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