Western Camel

Most people do not know that camels started out in North America. The western camel lived in North America from 10,000 to 600,000 years ago. It probably lived in Beringia for only a short part of this time. It is now extinct.

Scientists think that some western camels traveled into Asia when the land bridge was open during the Ice Ages. The descendants of these camels are the dromedary and Bactrian camels found in Africa and Asia today.  Other North American camels moved into South America and are related to the llamas found there now.  In life, the western camel looked like a dromedary – with one hump.  However, its legs were much longer (about 1/5” more) and its head was longer and narrower. In all, it was about 3.5 metres tall. It was probably covered with long hair to keep it warm.  It lived in herds, eating herbs, fruit and leaves as well as grasses.  Pieces of bones from western camels have been found at Paleo-Indian village  sites. It was probably one of the animals hunted by them for food, skins and bones.

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