Around 3000 BC, the Dromedary (one humped) camel was domesticated in Saudi Arabia and this camel was ideal for life in the desert, because their diet consists of dry, tough food like acacia (genus of shrubs and trees in the pea family) thorns, along with foliage and other desert vegetation and they can go for long stretches without drinking. Few animals are more useful to mankind and without camels, centuries of desert caravan trade would never have happened. Camels are mammals with long legs, a big-lipped snout and a humped back. The dromedary is also called the Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius), and it is used as a beast of burden. It is a large creature, as an adult male will stand from 5.9 to 6.6 ft tall, and weigh between 880 to 1,320 lbs. Camels are even-toed ungulate (hoofed animals whose weight is borne equally by their third and fourth toes).
The dromedary is the smallest of the camel species and the other species is a Bactrian camel, which has two humps. The dromedary species’ distinctive features include its long, curved neck, a narrow chest, a single hump, and it features long hairs on their throat, shoulders and hump. The coat is generally a shade of brown. The hump is approximately 7.9 in tall or more, and it is made of fat bound together by fibrous tissue. Dromedaries were used in warfare not only to carry archers, but also to transport heavy loads and they were very useful in long-distance trade along the Silk road. Rudyard Kipling told a tale of how the camel got its hump.
There is a little trick that you can use to tell if the Dromedary or the Bactrian camel has one hump or two humps. Just turn the first letter of each name onto its flat side. The ‘D’ in Dromedary makes one hump, and the ‘B’ in Bactrian makes two humps! Dromedaries are mainly active during daylight hours. They form herds of about 20 individuals, which are led by a dominant male. They also produce milk, wool, and meat; they can be used to plow. Their dung is not only used as fertilizer, but also to make fire. Mating occurs annually and peaks in the rainy season, where females will bear a single calf after a gestation of 15 months.
Camels can smell the water in wells, but they can’t survive in the desert without human help, as they can’t get water for themselves. Unless people draw water for them, camels will die. A camel can go without drinking longer than any other domestic animal. In the cooler part of the year, a camel may not drink water for up to six months, as it gets all the moisture it needs from its food. Even during the blazing hot summer months, a camel may drink only once a week. A camel conserves water so well that it can lose up to 40 percent of its body weight and still live. When camels drink, they consume enormous amounts of water at one time. A thirsty camel can drink over 5 gallons of water in one minute and a very thirsty camel, such as one that has just finished a long, hot caravan trip can gulp down 35 gallons of water in about six minutes. When a thirsty camel smells water, it rushes to the water, fights, and struggles to overcome anything in its way. Sometimes watering troughs are broken or knocked over from frenzied camels rushing for water.
The camel goes without water only when forced to do so. If a camel is forced to go without water, it conserves water by excreting less water in its urine. The camel has a wide range of normal body temperatures and unlike most other animals, it does not begin to sweat freely until its body temperature reaches 105° Fahrenheit. As a result, the camel is able to conserve much water on long desert trips. In a camel, much of the water lost from the blood is replaced by water drawn from other body tissues, which results in a normal blood volume being maintained and its cooling process can continue to function much longer. When a camel goes too long without water, it’s eyes fill with tears, they refuse to graze, and they begin to moan. As the camel dehydrates, part of its hump wastes away. The hydrogen contained in the hump is released, combining with oxygen to create water for the camel. When the hump is wasted away, the camel dies.
Kipling’s story starts out like this. “In the beginning of time, when the world is new, there is a Camel. The Camel is very lazy and he sits in the middle of the Howling Dessert, eating prickles (sharp-pointed outgrowth on the bark of a plant) and milkweeds. When anyone speaks to the Camel he responds with, ‘Humph’. On Monday, the Horse comes and asks the Camel to help trot. The Camel replies, ‘Humph’. The Horse goes away and tells the Man. On Tuesday, the Dog comes and asks the Camel to help fetch and carry. The Camel responds, ‘Humph’. The Dog goes away and tells the Man. On Wednesday, the Ox comes and asks the Camel to help plough. The Camel states, ‘Humph’. The Ox goes away and tells the Man. At the end of the day, the Man calls the Three animals together. The Man says that since the Camel will not work, they will have to do extra work to make up for him. This makes the Three very angry, and they talk and complain about the Camel.
In rolls a Djinn (an Arabian spirit), the man in charge of All Deserts, and he confers with the Three. They ask if it is alright for someone to be so lazy and not work. The Djinn, of course, says it is not. The Djinn heads to the middle of the desert where the Camel is ogling his reflection. The Djinn asks the Camel why he is not doing any work and the Camel responds, ‘Humph’. The Djinn tells the Camel that since he has chosen not to work, he has given the Three extra work. The Camel says, ‘Humph’. The Djinn warns the Camel that if he says ‘humph’ again, something bad may happen. As soon as the Camel responds with ‘humph’ again, a huge hump grows on the back of the Camel!”
Camels do not get camel toe, which refers to a pesky ‘paw print’ that acts like an arrow directing everyone’s eyes straight to your lady parts and nobody needs to see that. Camel toe is caused by improperly fitting clothes, such as when your pants are too tight, or perhaps they are too thin in the crotch region, which leads to unwanted cleavage in that area. The best way to avoid camel toe is to never go commando when wearing thin, stretchy fabrics.