Intriguing Ways Camels Have Adapted to Survive in their Harsh Environment
Camels have played an important role in the lives of human beings due to their unique ability to adapt to harsh conditions.
They have contributed hugely to human survival in the Middle East, Africa, parts of Asia, and now are contributing to the health of the western world.
While camels have enormous biological importance, very little has been known about the camel genome (an organism’s complete set of DNA) and the evolutionary advantages it imparts.
Camels share a common ancestor from around 55-60 million years ago; their survival for this length of time directly relates to some of the benefits humans derive from their milk.
The unique genetic make up of the camel is the main reason behind its ability to survive under extreme conditions.
Camels possess characteristics which enable them to survive in extreme desert conditions. They store energy in their humps in the form of fat which enables them to survive for long periods without food or water.
The body temperature of camels can fluctuate from 93 degrees to 106 degrees within a day.
A camel can easily lose water that is equivalent to 30% of its body weight during dehydration while other mammals, such as humans, would die due to circulatory failure when water loss exceeds 12% of their body weight.
The unusual elliptical shape of camel red blood cells facilitates their flow in a dehydrated state and makes it possible to cross small capillaries and keep them alive and functioning at a high physical level.
Camels deal with very high blood glucose levels without developing diabetes. They can also consume 8 times more salt than sheep or cattle without showing signs or symptoms of hypertension (high blood pressure.)
Camels are more resistant to major infectious diseases when compared to other mammals inhabiting the same geographical area.
There are just some of the physiological adaptations that camels have made to enable their survival.
The unusual genetic architecture of camels, and the regulation of different genes in response to different stresses, is the reason for camels’ survival in a harsh environment.
The camel genome harbors several unique variations which are being investigated in relation to several health disorders.
Because camels are so unique, their milk has properties not found in other forms of animal milk and can be helpful to support better health.