Ten facts you might not know about camels

Dear Tim

Since in the near future you will be leading teams across the deserts in Egypt, Sinai or Jordan, I thought I should tell you a bit about our lifelines in the desert - Camels. I’m sure you know already that they can survive for extended periods in deserts without food or water, carry great loads and alert us to the presence of snakes at night, but did you know some of these other lesser know facts about my favourite animals?

My Top Ten Facts about Camels

Top Camel Fact One

What we consider to be camels, are actually dromedaries. Camels, also known as Bactrian Camels, actually have two humps and are found in the Gobi.



Top Camel Fact Two

Dromedaries originated in North America some 3-5 million years ago and were wiped out by human migration into the continent.



Top Camel Fact Three

Dromedaries are part of the Camelidae family which includes Llamas, Guanacos, Giraffes and Bactrian Camels of course.

Top Camel Fact Four

Despite how closely we associate the Pyramids with camels you will not see Dromedaries represented in hieroglyphs in Giza, being introduced to Egypt only in 640 AD in the wake of the Arab expansion, along with Islam.



Top Camel Fact Five

Dromedaries were domesticated around the time of Moses circa 3,000 years ago in the Arabian peninsular and, according to some, Somalia.



Top Camel Fact Six

A third, transparent eyelid protects the eyes of dromedaries during sandstorms, but still allows them to see. Curiously they are also able to close their nostrils for the same reason.

Top Camel Fact Seven

They possess a thick coat of fur, not for warmth as some might think, but actually to insulate themselves from the reflected heat of the sand.



Top Camel Fact Eight

Dromedaries have oval rather than round blood cells. Their shape helps their blood to flow even when dehydrated and more viscous.



Top Camel Fact Nine

They can lose up to 25% of their body weight due to sweating.

Top Camel Fact Ten

The body temperature of a Dromedary fluctuates throughout the day, starting at 34ºC at dawn and reaching up to 40ºC by the end of the day. Thankfully they have the opportunity to cool off during the night!


If you or any of your biology buddies think i've missed out any important camel facts, or that i've got one wrong (hard to believe I know) then let me know.

I'll be sending some questions your way later.