Q:

How do camels adapt to the desert?

A:

Camels possess several inheritable traits that increase its survival rate in harsh desert climates. The most glaring attribute of the camel is the large hump on the animal’s back. Dromedaries (one hump) and Bactrian camels (two humps) use the hump(s) to store up to 80 pounds of fat. The fat is broken-down to supply the animals with energy and moisture to survive the long treks through the desert.

In addition to the camel’s hump, camels have an extended large intestine that absorbs every morsel of water from the foods they consume. During long trips through the desert, the fat stored in their humps is broken down and transferred throughout their bodies as energy. When the hump is depleted of its fat, it will lay deflated on the side of the camel’s back. Following a long trip, camels will consume massive amounts of water and food to restore their humps.

Other physical adaptations of the camel include wide feet for walking through the desert, long eyelashes to protect from sand storms and thin nostrils that prevent sand from entering the nasal passages.

Most camels are domesticated for use by humans, but there are a few wild camels in the grasslands of Mongolia and the Australian Outback.


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