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Camels … In the Arctic?!

March 12th, 2013

Illustration credit of High Arctic camel by Julius Csotonyi and the Canadian Musem of Nature

When we usually think of camels, we think of them in hot, dry places like deserts in the Middle East, and parts of Africa and Asia. But scientists announced a big discovery last week: they found evidence of camels … in the Arctic?!

The fossils date this kind of camel back to the Arctic 3.5 million years ago (there are no camels there now).

Evidence also suggests these camels were huge! About 30% bigger than modern-day camels.

They were likely more furry too, to keep warm, even though scientists say the Arctic back then was actually warmer than it is now, by about 14-20 degrees.

Camels are believed to have originated in North America and ended up elsewhere while land was still connected. But it was still a surprise to find them that far north!

Bone fragments from a limb of the High Arctic Camel. Photo credit: Martin Lipman/Canadian Museum of Nature

About 30 bone fragments were discovered in the far Canadian north at Ellesmere Island over three visits in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

The research team's camp on Ellesmere Island. Photo credit: Martin Lipman/Canadian Museum of Nature

The announcement was made last week on March 5th.

The fragments are being researched at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada. You can watch an explanation of the find by the project’s lead researcher, Dr. Natalia Rybczynski, below:

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