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Camelids are members of the biological family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder . The seven members of this group are: , , wild Bactrian camels, , , vicuñas, and . Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order , along with species including , , , , and .


Characteristics
Camelids are large, strictly animals with slender necks and long legs. They differ from in a number of ways.Fowler, M.E. (2010). Medicine and Surgery of Camelids, Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell. Chapter 1 "General Biology and Evolution" addresses the fact that camelids (including camels and llamas) are not ruminants, pseudo-ruminants, or modified ruminants. Their dentition show traces of vestigial central in the , and the third incisors have developed into canine-like tusks. Camelids also have true and tusk-like , which are separated from the by a gap. As in ruminants, the upper incisors are largely absent and are replaced by a consisting of connective tissue covered with . The musculature of the hind limbs differs from those of other ungulates in that the legs are attached to the body only at the top of the thigh, rather than attached by skin and muscle from the knee upwards. Because of this, camelids have to lie down by resting on their knees with their legs tucked underneath their bodies.
(1987). 9780521346979, Cambridge University Press.
They have three-chambered , rather than four-chambered ones; their upper lips are split in two, with each part separately mobile; and, uniquely among mammals, their red blood cells are elliptical. They also have a unique type of , which lack the light chain, in addition to the normal antibodies found in other mammals. These so-called heavy-chain antibodies are being used to develop single-domain antibodies with potential applications.

Camelids do not have hooves; rather, they have two-toed feet with toenails and soft foot pads ( is Greek for "padded foot"). Most of the weight of the animal rests on these tough, leathery sole pads. The South American camelids have adapted to the steep and rocky terrain by adjusting the pads on their toes to maintain grip.

(1984). 9780871968715, Facts on File. .
The surface area of Camels foot pads can increase with increasing velocity in order to reduce pressure on the feet and larger members of the camelid species will usually have larger pad area, which helps to distribute weight across the foot. Many fossil camelids were and probably hooved, in contrast to all living species.
(1986). 9780816011940, Facts on File. .

Camelids are behaviorally similar in many ways, including their walking gait, in which both legs on the same side are moved simultaneously. While running, camelids engage a unique "running pace gait" in which limbs on the same side move in the same pattern they walk, with both left legs moving and then both right, which ensures that the fore and hind limb will not collide while in fast motion. During this motion, all four limbs momentarily are off the ground at the same time. Consequently, camelids large enough for human beings to ride have a typical swaying motion.

Dromedary camels, bactrian camels, llamas, and alpacas are all induced ovulators.

The three Afro-Asian camel species have developed extensive adaptations to their lives in harsh, near-waterless environments. Wild populations of the Bactrian camel are even able to drink , and some herds live in nuclear test areas. Wild Bactrian Camels Critically Endangered, Group Says National Geographic, 3 December 2002

Comparative table of the seven extant species in the family Camelidae:

( Camelus bactrianus) and
(entirely domesticated)

or
Arabian camel ( Camelus dromedarius)
South Asia and Middle East
(entirely domesticated)
Wild Bactrian camel ( Camelus ferus) China and Mongolia300 to 820 kg (660 to 1,800 lb)
Lama
( Lama glama) (domestic form of guanaco)
( Lama guanicoe) South Americaabout
( Lama pacos) (domestic form of vicuña)
Vicuña ( Lama vicugna) South American


Evolution
of the biogeographic distribution of Camelidae species:

The yellow dot is the origin of the family Camelidae and the black arrows are the historic migration routes that explain the present-day distribution.]] Camelids are unusual in that their modern distribution is almost the inverse of their area of origin. Camelids first appeared very early in the evolution of the even-toed ungulates, around 50 to 40 million years ago during the middle , in present-day North America. Among the earliest camelids was the rabbit-sized , which still had four toes on each foot. By the late , around 35 million years ago, camelids such as had lost the two lateral toes, and were about the size of a modern .

(1999). 9781840281521, Marshall Editions.

The family diversified and prospered, with the two living tribes, the and , diverging in the late early , about 17 million years ago, but remained restricted to North America until about 6 million years ago, when crossed the Bering land bridge into , giving rise to the modern camels, and about 3-2 million years ago, when emigrated into South America (as part of the Great American Interchange), giving rise to the modern llamas. A population of Paracamelus continued living in North America and evolved into the high arctic camel, which survived until the middle Pleistocene.

The original camelids of North America remained common until the quite recent geological past, but then disappeared, possibly as a result of hunting or habitat alterations by the earliest human settlers, and possibly as a result of changing environmental conditions after the last ice age, or a combination of these factors. Three species groups survived - the of northern Africa and southwest Asia; the of central Asia; and the South American group, which has now diverged into a range of forms that are closely related, but usually classified as four species - , , , and vicuñas. Camelids were domesticated by early Andean peoples,

(2024). 9780826357021, University of New Mexico Press.
and remain in use today.

Fossil camelids show a wider variety than their modern counterparts. One North American genus, , stood 3.5 m at the shoulder, compared with about 2.0 m for the largest modern camelids. Other extinct camelids included small, gazelle-like animals, such as . Finally, a number of very tall, giraffe-like camelids were adapted to feeding on leaves from high trees, including such genera as and .

Whether the wild Bactrian camel ( Camelus ferus) is a distinct species or a subspecies ( C. bactrianus ferus) is still debated. The divergence date is 0.7 million years ago, long before the start of domestication.


Scientific classification
Family Camelidae


Phylogeny

Extinct genera
Tall, s-shaped neck, true padded camel feet
Earliest A small, primitive, narrow-snouted floridatraguline camel
-Large, with true camel feet, hump status uncertain
From
Early An unusual species of camel with a long snout
-A North and South American lamine genus
-The largest species of camelid
-Early Large camelid from
Early The earliest member of the "giraffe camel" family
A North and South American lamine genus
This species of camel took the place of deer and antelope in the White River .
Ancestor of extinct Titanolypus and modern Camelus
Late Earliest member of the camelids
Early Small, gazelle-like camel that lived in large herds on the Great Plains
Late Long-snouted primitive relative of Floridatragulus
-Tall, humped, true camel feet


International Year of Camelids
In October 2017 the declared 2024 to be the International Year of Camelids in order to show how camelids are important for food security, economics and culture for many /ref>


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