About Bactrian CamelsAbout Bactrian Camels

Bactrian Camels are large even-toed ungulates native to Central Asia and are known as Mongolian Camels or domesticated Bactrian Camels. They boast two humps, unlike the single-humped dromedary. With a population of 2 million, Bactrian Camels mainly exist in their domesticated form. They get their name from the historical region of Bactria.

They are large mammals (body mass ranging from 300 to 1,000 kg) and shoulder height from 160 to 180 cm. They have long, wooly coats that vary in color, a mane and beard of long hair on their neck and throat, and a long, triangular face with a split upper lip.

Bactrian camels have also been used in various capacities throughout history and in different cultures. They have been used as pack animals and for transportation, especially in desert areas, as well as for riding and even in artwork. Despite attempts to import them to the U.S. in the 1800s, they were not successful and only small herds of feral camels remained. The Indian army has concluded that the Bactrian camel is well-suited for patrolling in the Ladakh region due to its ability to carry heavy loads and survive without water for extended periods of time.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first European to describe camels in his 4th century BCE History of Animals, where he identified the one-humped Arabian Camel and the two-humped Bactrian Camel. The Bactrian Camel was named Camelus bactrianus by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in his 1758 publication Systema Naturae.

In 2007, a study led by Peng Cui of the Chinese Academy of Sciences investigated the evolutionary relationships between the two tribes of Camelidae: Camelini, consisting of the three Camelus species (considering the Wild Bactrian Camel as a subspecies of the Bactrian Camel), and Lamini, consisting of the alpaca, guanaco, llama, and vicuña. The study found that the tribes had diverged 25 million years ago, earlier than previously estimated from North American fossils. Speciation first occurred in Lamini, with the alpaca evolving 10 million years ago, followed by the emergence of the Bactrian Camel and Dromedary as separate species 2 million years later. However, the fossil record suggests a more recent divergence between the Bactrian Camel and the Dromedary, as no fossil that fits within this divergence is older than the middle Pleistocene (about 0.8 Ma).

Modern zoological opinion supports the idea that the Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the Dromedary (C. dromedarius) are descendants of two different subspecies of the Wild Bactrian Camel (C. ferus). There is no evidence to suggest that the original range of the Wild Bactrian Camel included Central Asia and Iran where some of the earliest Bactrian remains have been found.

Bactrian camels have two humps on their back, in contrast to the single hump of its relative, the dromedary. The humps are used as a fat reserve, providing energy and sustenance when food is scarce. Bactrian camels are well-adapted to its harsh desert environment. It has a number of adaptations that help it to survive, such as its shaggy winter coat that provides insulation, its long eyelashes and sealable nostrils that protect against sandstorms, and its broad, tough feet that allow it to walk on sand.

Content and photo source: Wikipedia.org