CAMEL, a large ruminant of the genus Centaur, family Cantelike (q.v.), two species of which have been domesticated since prehis toric times, and used as riding-animals and beasts of burden in the desert regions of the Old World. Although much search has been made, no wild species of camel can be found except one small two-humped variety, discov ered by Prejevalski, which inhabits central Asia, northward to Siberia, but it is not certain whether it represents an original wild species, or is a degenerate race long ago escaped from domestication.
The Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) has one hump on the shoulders; the Bactrian camel (C. bartrianus) two. These are com posed of muscle, flesh and fat, which in times of famine is reabsorbed to a large extent. After it has been exhausted, a rest of three or four months, with abundance of food, is neces sary to restore it. The former is the more common species, and is used from Mongolia and northwest India throughout south-central Asia, Asia Minor, Arabia and northern .and eastern Africa, and to a small extent in Spain and else where. At the time of the rush of gold-seekers to California about 1850, efforts were made to naturalize camels in the arid regions of the southwestern United States, as a means of car rying supplies to the army posts there, but they proved unsuccessful, mainly by reason of their intractable and vicious disposition.
The original home of the single-humped camel is uncertain, but as it is better adapted to O. sandy region' than is the Bactrian species, it is thought, to; have been in • the Sahara or Arabian desert. Its peculiar adaptability to life in sandy iiegions is noticeable is many ways. The callous cushions (pads) on its feet are re peated upon the chest and the joints of the legs, on which it rests when rising, kneeling or lying down, and- protect these parts from abrasion by the sharp sand. Its wedge-shaped cutting teeth are *ell fitted for cropping the short, ;shrubby plants of the desert Its long eye .lashes protect it from the glaring sun and from the drifting sand; and the ability to -close the oblique nostrils at will prevents the entrance of dust. The most remarlmble :provision for life in arid regions, however, is found in the struc ture of the stomach, the interior of which has no villi on its surface. Both the compartments of the paunch contain a number of pouches or cells in their walls, each of which may be closed and separated from the remainder of the paunch. These are filled and closed when the camel drinks, and by these means it can store more water than is requisite for its immedi ate use, and so save up a store which may gradually be drawn upon during long journeys over waterless districts. The camel's senses of sight and smell are very acute, and it is ca pable of discerning water at a great distance. By reason of these qualities it has been a most important factor in the colonizing of the coun tries that lie south and east of the Mediterra nean, Black and Caspian seas, and such oasts or fertile areas as are separated by desert waters; in fact students of civilization believe that these regions could hardly ba.vc become
the abode of a settled civilization had it not been for this useful The Bactrian camel is . smaller size'and heavier build, and, by its harder and snore cloven feet, and longer and finer hair, is better adapted to a rocky and cooler region. Its hab itat is central Asia. Like the southern species it has wonderful endurance, withstanding the terrific summer heat of Persia and the Tibetan plains, and the Arctic cold of the passes of Hindu-Kush and Mongolia. They have been successfully employed as army transports by the English, in northwestern India; and for many years, through all weathers, trains of these camels, sometimes of many thousands, were al most the only means by which tea and other merchandise was transported between China and Russia.
The many breeds of camel exhibit great di versity. Some are those bred only for the sad dle, others as baggage-carriers or draft animals, for they are also trained to haul carriages in harness. Properly, a udrorneclaryo is any camel of either species of a saddle-breed, distin guished for its speed and ease of gait As -a beast of burden the camel has great powers of endurance. The Arabian species carries twice the load of a mule, while it is not unusual for the Bactrian species to carry half a ton weight upon its back; by reason of which it is some times poetically termed the uship of the des ert.* Caravans frequently contain as many as 1,000 camels, which move along at a steady and uniform pace of about two and a half miles an hour. When bred especially for the purpose they have been known to carry a. traveler 100 miles a day. They move with a pacing motion, lifting the feet on - the same •side successively.
Their money value is about the same as that of horses of similar grade and purpose.
The camel serves the nomadic inhabitants of Arabia and the Sahara and the East in many ways besides as a riding animal or beast of burden. It gives them hair that may be woven into the coarse fabric for tent-covers and ropes, or the finer shawls and rugs that are often of great market value. Its milk and flesh are food and its hide and bones are utilized, while its dried dung serves as fuel when no wood is obtainable; and from its tracks, in reading which the Bedouins ate amazingly skilful, the nomad derives informa tion of interest and importance as to the move ments of neighbors or the strategy of enemies. This animal forms an important element in the economy of the civilized people of those regions, in warfare as well as in agriculture and commerce. A camel-corps has long been a regular part of the organization of the British army in Egypt and in northeastern India, serv ing as effective cavalry.