Camels Likely Came From ... Canada's Arctic

Big specimen found in what was once forest

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 6, 2013 8:58 AM CST

(Newser) – Modern camels roaming the deserts of Africa and Asia likely owe their existence to ancestors that lived in what is now Canada's High Arctic, reports the National Post. Researchers at the Canadian Museum of Nature found relatively well-preserved bone fragments in the tundra of Ellesmere Island, where the camel lived about 3.5 million years ago. It looks to be a one-humped creature about 30% bigger than today's camels.

The notion that camels originated in North America isn't new, but the discovery suggests that it was this northern Canadian variety that eventually trekked over the Bering Land Bridge, reports AP. "This is the one that's tied to the ancestry of modern camels," says a lead researcher. What's more, the creature hails from the "mid-Pliocene," a warm period in which temps in the area would likely have been around 32 degrees. As such, fossils from this period can offer climate-change clues, and help get "our heads around what might be happening next and how fast it might happen," she says.

Frame grab from a video on the Arctic camel.   (Canadian Museum of Nature)
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