Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Camel, any individual of the Old World genus Camelus, which with Auchenia (q.v.) constitutes the family Camelidae, equivalent to the modern Tylopoda, an aberrant group of Ruminants. None of the family is horned; the usual callous pad in the upper jaw is replaced in the type-genus by three, and in Auchenia by two, teeth on each side. The feet have two toes, each covered on the upper surface only with an imperfect nail-like hoof. The hinder surfaces of the toes, on which these animals walk, are directed downwards, and enclosed in callous pads (whence the name Tylopoda). The stomach differs from that of other Ruminants in having only three instead of four compartments, the many-plies, or psalterium, normally the third, being absent. On the walls of the paunch are two aggregations of cells, covered at the mouth with a muscular membrane, in which is an oval opening, capable of dilatation or contraction, probably at will. In these cells the Arabian camel can store some six quarts of water (to obtain which the Arabs have often slaughtered the animal). The second stomach, or honeycomb bag, has very deep cells, and is probably also used as a receptacle for water, since food is never found in it after death. The home of the family, which dates back to the Miocene, appears to have been North America, whence the living species could easily have been derived. In the type-genus the muzzle is hairy, the upper lip cleft, and the nostrils may be closed at will, so as to afford protection against clouds of sand or dust. There are callosities upon the chest and the joints, on which the animal kneels to rest or to receive its burden, and since these callosities are found in newborn calves, it seems clear that a modification to meet a certain want has become permanent. The camel is a huge, ungainly beast, with long neck and limbs, a hump or humps on the back, having the coat scanty in the summer and long and matted in the winter. The true, or Arabian camel - the "Ship of the Desert" (C. dromedarius) - is a native of Asia and Africa. It is often called the dromedary, but that name should be applied only to a swift variety used for riding, and not as a beast of burden. The hair is grey, with a reddish tinge, and there is a single hump. These humps are accumulations of fat, which are really reserve stores of food, and the size of the hump is a sure sign of the animal's condition. Camels are of immense value to the Arabs, who not only use them for travelling and carrying goods, but make the milk into butter and cheese, the hair into fabrics for clothing and tent-covers, and the skin into leather, while the flesh is used as food. The average load for a camel is about 600 lbs., and its pace is from two to three miles an hour; the usual distance covered in a day by a dromedary is about 100 miles, and its rate is often ten miles an hour. This is the species mentioned in Scripture, and figured in ancient sculpture. Napoleon employed Arabian camels in his Egyptian campaign. In 1885 the British followed his example, and "camelry," to signify soldiers mounted on camels, is now a recognised word in the language. The Bactrian Camel (C. bactrianus), a native of Central Asia, has two humps, and is more heavily built than its congener, though a small race exists in the Kirghiz steppe. Camels are extremely hardy, able to subsist on anything in the shape of herbage, and to support long periods of drought owing to the peculiar arrangement of the stomach for storing water. They are often said to be docile and patient; though some writers deny this, and a recent authority describes them as "never tame, though not wideawake enough to be exactly wild." On the other hand, instances are on record of their harbouring resentment and taking revenge for ill-treatment.