By Titilayo Kupoliyi
People have kept camels for more than 4,000 years and still depend on them for survival all over the world.
There are over 160 words for camel in Arabic alone. There are two types of camels: One humped or “dromedary” camels and two-humped Bactrian camels.
Camels have three sets of eyelids and two rows of eyelashes to keep sand out of their eyes.
Camels have thick lips which let them forage for thorny plants other animals can’t eat.
Camels can completely shut their nostrils during sandstorms.
Thanks to thick pads of skin on their chest and knees, camels can comfortably sit in very hot sand.
Their humps let them store up to 80 pounds of fat which they can live off for weeks and even months!
When a camel finally does find water, he can drink up to 40 gallons in one go.
Camels are very strong and can carry up to 900 pounds for 25 miles a day.
The camel can survive up to eight days in 50-degree temperatures without eating or drinking-circumstances that would kill a human in 36 hours.
It usually drinks 4 times in the summer and only once in the winter. Most of the time, the camel is in a state of dehydration but when it gets hydrated, its physiological system quickly adapts to the massive change in body volume.
When the camel does find a source of water it stores it up. Camels can drink up to a third of their body weight of water in ten minutes meaning up to 130 litres in one go.
What is in Camel’s Hump?
Contrary to common beliefs, the camel doesn’t store water in the humps, but they consist of about 40 kg of fat! Concentrating body fat in their humps minimizes heat evaporation and creates insulation throughout the rest of their body.
When this tissue is metabolized, it acts as a source of energy and yields more than 1 g of water for each 1 g of fat converted through reaction with oxygen from air.
This process of fat metabolization generates a net loss of water through respiration for the oxygen required to convert the fat.
Camels can travel at up to 40 miles per hour, the same as a racehorse!
Don’t make a camel angry, they can spit as a way to distract whatever they think is a threat camels carry their calves up to 14 months before giving birth.
Some calves are born completely white and turn brown as their adult coat comes in.
Numerous anatomical and physical adaptations have allowed the camel to survive the incredibly harsh environment of the desert.
Heat storage within the body of the camel, selective brain cooling, fur, concentrated urine from unique kidneys, adaptations in the respiratory system, special physical features, unique blood consistency and hormones all serve as important characteristics for the camel in terms of thermo-regulation.
The camel increases its body temperature during the scorching heat of the day.
That way it minimizes water loss from evaporation. At night it cools its body temperature down to 7 degrees Celsius, saving almost 5 litres of water this way.
To protect the brain from overheating, the camel has an ‘air conditioning” system installed.
The camel’s red blood cells have an oval shape, unlike those of other mammals which are circular. This is to facilitate their flow in a dehydrated state.
These cells are also more stable to withstand high osmotic variation without rupturing when drinking large amounts of water. WOW!
The kidneys of the camel of course play an important role in water conservation.
They have a special shape being able to produce very concentrated urine thus increasing water retention. The concentration of the camel’s urine is higher than seawater, it resembles syrup in consistency.
This also enables the camels to drink salty water without problems. Also, the levels of hormones responsible for water levels significantly increase in the dehydrated camel.
Most of the food sources in the desert are dry and thorny so the camel’s digestive system has been created according to these harsh conditions.
The animal’s teeth and lips are constructed to enable it to eat even sharp thorns with ease. Its stomach, which has a special design of its own, is strong enough to digest almost all plants found in the desert.
How Camels Survive in Sandstorms
The eyelids of the camel protect the animal’s eyes from dust and grains of sand.
However, they are also transparent and that enables it to see even with its eyes closed which would come in handy amid a sandstorm. Its long, thick eyelashes are created to prevent dust from getting into the eyes.
There is also a special design in the camel’s nose. When sandstorms blow, it closes its nostrils with special lids. The nostrils are also designed to reduce loss of water through respiration with a unique cooling system and nasal passages that can absorb water that passes through them.
The camel’s feet are specially created for the desert so that it doesn’t get stuck in the sand even if it is carrying hundreds of kilo loads on its back. The animal’s wide toes stop it from sinking in the sand and function just like snowshoes. Its long legs keep its body away from the burning heat of the desert floor.
Protection and Perfection
The camel’s body is covered in thick, hard fur. This protects the animal both from the burning rays of the sun by reflecting the heat and from the desert chill in the night which can go below zero.
Some parts of its body are covered in thick protective layers of skin that come into contact with the ground when it sits on the scorching sand. This prevents the camel’s skin from burning.
These thick layers of skin are not calluses that develop over time; the camel is born with them. The equivalent of a human baby being born with thickened skin on the soles of its feet! This special design brings out the perfection of creation in the camel.
The thickened skin cannot be explained by the logic of the theory of evolution That and all its other extraordinary features reveal one evident truth: That the camel was specifically created by God to help man survive in the desert.