Giant Camels Once Roamed Ancient Arctic

Giant Camels Once Roamed Ancient Arctic

Desert-dwelling camels may just have evolved in a chillier climate.

Paleontologists in Canada's remote high arctic have uncovered fragments of bones suggesting that ancient cousins of modern camels once lived there. Analysis of fragmentary leg bones lead palaeobiologists to the conclusion that ancient, wooly camels once lived on Ellesmere island when the earth was slightly warmer. Modern Dromedary Camels, then, likely came from descendants of arctic camels that traveled over the Bering land bridge from Alaska to eastern Siberia - and from there arrived in their modern range of central Asia to northern Africa. Based on the size of the bone fragments it was quite the giant. The camel stood about 2.7 meters (nearly 9 feet) at the shoulder and weighed in at 900 kilograms (nearly 2,000 pounds.) That is, according to Science NOW, about 30% larger than a modern camel.

Dr. Natalia Rybczynski, a palaeobiologist whose team discovered the bone fragments, described a few of the reasons Camels found success in an arctic environment: "The wide, flat feet that are useful for walking on sand could also have been useful for walking on snow. In addition, the hump serves as fat storage, so this could have been essential for an animal that would have to survive a long, dark, cold winter. In addition, camels have very large eyes that could also be suitable for seeing in low light that would have characterized the winter in the boreal forest."

The ancient camel would have shared its environment with greyhound-sized deer, three toed ponies, and more recognizable residents like beavers and bears. The bones found at the site were roughly 3.5 million years old. The average global temperature at the time would have been 2 to 3 degrees warmer, but the arctic would have been 14 to 22 degrees warmer - though the camel would still have had to contend with long arctic nights and extended winters. The site the bones were found, Ellesmere island, is just west of northern Greenland, about 1,200 miles north of any previous ancient camel finds.

Source: Science NOW

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i wonder how big its toes were?

don't you dare judge me!

wooly camels is my Queens of the Stone Age cover band.

Silly paleo-biologist, everybody knows climate change is just a myth cooked up by scientist to get more funding for projects and studies that don't involve blowing things up. Which is what god intended science for.

Did it look something like this:

image

Treblaine:
Did it look something like this:

image

Congratulations, you've just won two free internets. Please redeem them at wherever the hell they sell internets.

Deserts aren't defined by heat, but rather precipitation, which makes this not surprising at all. Camels' primary distinguishing adaptation is their ability to go without water for extended periods of time...considering that many arctic and antarctic regions are actually classified as deserts, this actually makes a lot of sense.

That's cool. It'd be cooler if we could actually start breeding Arctic Camels though. It'd make wandering the North and South Pole a lot more like the beginning of Star Wars Ep. V, and we can all live in them if we have to.

Very fascinating to say the least.

I wonder what the full skeleton would of look like? I doubt they will be able to find all the missing pieces.

Scarim Coral:
Very fascinating to say the least.

I wonder what the full skeleton would of look like? I doubt they will be able to find all the missing pieces.

Sadly, this looks unlikely. The Ellesmere island region has been scoured over the course of centuries by ice sheets. When the palaeobiologist first found a piece of the bones, she thought it was petrified wood or stone. It took testing to confirm what they had found.

Given the richness of the setting it's amazing there aren't more games based in prehistoric times. I mean common, dinosaurs are awesome and no one owns any sort of copyright or licensing rights to them.

This makes me wonder what other animals had bigger versions way back when. Were there giant dogs?

woulda been nice to have known about this earlier :) and seen them giant camels in Skyrim lol

EvilChameleon:
This makes me wonder what other animals had bigger versions way back when. Were there giant dogs?

Epicyon haydeni is the largest known Canine to have ever existed.

The tallest common domestic dog is the Irish Wolfhound

Hope that answered your question.

OT: This is surprising... Never expected to learn of this. The world really is quite a fascinating place.

There really is no reason, but this is the most awesome thing I've heard all day. I love reading about animals that existed before the Quaternary and Holocene extinction events.

It would've been more awesome if they stood like, 10 meters tall... That's what I'd call a giant camel!

...guess we'll just have to work with what we get.

 

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