OLD WORLD CAMELS
Bactrian camels have 2 humps and are robust, heavy-coated cold-climate camels. Dromedaries have one hump and are finer boned and lighter coated desert dwellers. Both have evolved to withstand a dry environment. Cross breeding of Dromedary and Bactrian camel occurs in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Russia and Turkey to produce a fast-maturing hybrid that is larger, stronger and more docile than either parent. The hybrids can be over 7.5 ft at the shoulder and weigh up to 2200 lb. They have a single, elongated hump from shoulder to rump. Hybrid camels are used as draft animals and are more tractable than the parent species. The faster maturation means they reach working size sooner than the purebred parents. In Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan hybrid camels are known as Tulu, Majen, Iver and Bertuar. In Kazakhstan they are called Bukhts. In Iran the males are known as Boghor and the females as Hachamaia.
In Kazakhstan, female Bactrian-Dromedary hybrids may be crossed back to a Bactrian resulting in a three-quarter bred Bactrian (also known as F2 Bactrian) used as a riding camels. These have 75% Bactrian genes and have 2 humps, but are less robust in type than purebred Bactrian camels. They are generally faster than Bactrians and stronger than Dromedaries.
The converse back-crossing of a female Bactrian-Dromedary hybrid to a Dromedary is less common. This produces a three-quarter bred Dromedary (also known as F2 Dromedary) that is larger and stronger than a purebred Dromedary. These have 75% Dromedary genes and have a single hump, but are more robust in type than a Dromedary.
Genetic differences (an additional 3 genes and metabolic differences allowing it to drink brackish water) means the endangered Wild Bactrian is considered a separate species from the domesticated Bactrian. Wild Bactrians and escaped Domestic Bactrians interbreed endangering the purity of the wild species.
HYBRID CAMEL. (The Field, 24th June 1871) -I remark that the young camel which now passes for an example of the one-humped Camelus dromedarius in the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, is again a hybrid or cross between the one-humped and two-humped species, as conspicuously shown by the shortness of its limbs, and by the longitudinal elongation of its single dorsal hump. There is a considerable amount of variation in the shape of the hump in such hybrid camels, it being always longitudinally elongated, with the upper margin entire or unbroken in some examples, and tending more or less to divide into two humps in others. As compared with the hump or any pure-bred one-humped camel, that of the hybrid is narrower and much longer "fore and aft," and (so far as I have seen) the limbs are always about as short as in the two-humped camel, or much more so than in the pure-bred one-humped camel. Besides breeds or races of minor import, there are three very strongly marked races of one-humped camels which appear to me to have good claim to be ranked as species, having probably derived from different wild stocks in far distant pre-historic times. 1, the Arab camel, which is the same from the banks of the Ganges to the coast of Senegal; 2, the true dromedary, which occurs throughout the same range, and is used exclusively to be ridden upon; and 3, the Afghan camel, which ought to have been styled the Bactrian camel, while the Camelus bactrianus of Linnaeus should rather have been denominated the Tibetan camel. The Afghan camel has the short limbs of the two-humped species, and is otherwise a good deal like it, except that it is single-humped; and, like the two-humped camel, it enjoys the temperature of zero of Fahrenheit, even as the Arab camel and the quick-paced dromedary do not appear to be inconvenienced by any amount of solar heat provided they are not athirst and in absolute want of water. Conversely, the Afghan and the Tibetan camels are unable to endure the heat of the plains of India any more than the others can withstand the winter cold of the mountains of Middle Asia. – ZOOPHILUS
NEW WORLD CAMELIDS
The 4 south American camels – Llama, Alpaca, Vicuna and Guanaco - interbreed to produce partially fertile hybrids; both male and female hybrids have been recorded as reproducing. The Llama is considered a domesticated form of Guanaco, while Alpacas may be a domesticated form of Vicuna (possibly with some Llama blood). The names of the hybrids vary depending on the language spoken by the breeders.
Llama (Lama glama) x Guanaco (Lama guanicoe). A male Guanaco/female Llama result in a Llama-guanaco (unusual in that the sire's name should form the first part of the hybrid's name). Feral llamas have hybridised with wild Guanaco.
Llama (Lama glama) x Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) produce partially fertile hybrids. The “huarizo” (male llama × female alpaca) is used as a beast of burden and a wool-producer. The reverse cross – called a “misto” - is less common. A Llama/Alpaca cross which resembles the Llama parent is also known as a Warilla; if it resembles the Alpaca parent it is called a T'aqa.
Llama (Lama glama) x Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) produce partially fertile hybrids called “waris.” The hybrids are known as waris. A male Vicuna/female Llama result in a Llamo-vicuna. These are common in the Andes and may have contributed to the Alpaca.
Guanaco x Vicuna produce hybrids; these are both non-domestic New World camels.
A male Alpaca/female Guanaco result in a Paco-guanaco.
Alpaca x Vicuna produce partially fertile hybrids. Male Vicuna x Female Alpaca hybrids are commonly bred in Peru where they are called “pacovicunas.” They are valued for their wool, which is finer than that of the alpaca and heavier than that of the vicuna; after the first shearing the fleece becomes more coarse (in the same way that lambswool is finer than mature sheep wool). Breeders obtain a newborn male Vicuna through hunting (without killing the mother) and it is raised by a domestic Alpaca female in order to imprint it on Alpacas. When mature it is used as a stud for breeding pacovicunas. The reverse mating – male Alpaca to female Vicuna – does not produce commercially valuable animals.
A Llama/Alpaca cross which resembles the Llama parent is known as a Warilla; if it resembles the Alpaca parent it is called a T'aqa.
The Ogdensburg Journal, 25th August, 1871 reported a camel-llama hybrid.
Dromedary camel (Camelus dromedaries) x Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) or its domesticated form the Llama (Lama glama) has twice formed hybrids called “camas” by artificial insemination (a male Dromedary is 6 times the size of a female guanaco). Despite the gestation mismatch - guanaco pregnancy lasts 11 months, dromedary pregnancy lasts 13 months - two female hybrids were created. The Cama was bred by scientists who wanted to see how closely related the parent species were. Though born even smaller than a Llama calf, the Cama had the short ears and long tail of a camel, no hump and Llama-like cloven hooves rather than the Dromedary-like pads. When mature, they had the muzzle and pelt of a New World camel and lacked a hump, but the deep voice of the Old World Dromedary. At four years old, the Cama became sexually mature and interested in Llama and Guanaco females.
A second Cama (female) has since been produced using artificial insemination.
Because Camels and Llamas both have 74 chromosomes, scientists hope that the Cama will be fertile. If so, there is potential for increasing size, meat/wool yield and pack/draft ability in South American camels. The Cama apparently inherited the poor temperament of both parents as well as demonstrating the relatedness of the New World and Old World camelids.
The converse mating, Llama male to Dromedary female have proven unsuccessful.
BLACK CAMEL EXHIBITED AS “CONNECTING LINK BETWEEN THE CAMEL AND LLAMA FAMILY”
Back in a more credulous age, unfamiliar animals were often billed as hybrids. In this case, a black Dromedary camel was billed as a missing link between the Asian and South American camels. One report calls it a “black hybrid.” In fact it is a colour morph, but its story is worth repeating.
SEASON’S FIRST CIRCUS REACHES CITY TO-DAY. WILD BLACK CAMEL IN THE MEN¬AGERIE. (Pittsburgh Daily Post, 3rd May, 1908)
Another of the rare and strange curi¬osities in the menageries is a wild black Bactarian [sic – it was actually a Dromedary] camel. Taller than a full-grown elephant, and as ferocious as any four-footed man-eating animal, the beast is justly called the most titanic humped marvel ever exhibited. Agents for Cole brothers made the capture near the lake of Lob Nor. It is said this is the first wild camel ever brought to this country and the only black one ever seen any¬where in public. Made captive last December, it is just as wild to-day as it was when at liberty. Experienced animal tamers say that no amount of kindness or harsh treatment will ever subdue it. It is an exception¬ally fine specimen, its huge towering body being covered with a heavy growth of long black hair. Its limbs are large and powerful.
BLACK CAMEL WITH COLE BROS.’ SHOWS. (The Buffalo Commercial, 26th May, 1909). It is Said to Be the Only One on Ex¬hibition —Theory of Prof. Loomis. - Cole Bros.’ World Toured Shows, which will be here Monday, May 31st, have in their large menagerie a black camel — the only one ever placed on exhibition. Students of natural history who have studied this rare specimen of the camel family are at a loss to trace its antecedents. Some of the natural his¬torians who have made this branch of the animal world a particular study regard the black hybrid as the connecting link between the camel and llama family. In this connection Prof. F. B. Loomis in his address before the Amherst College Alumni on the subject of “Hunting Cam¬els in Western America” became author¬ity for historical facts or theories that have since caused students to sit up and take notice. He has upset a great many beliefs regarding the camel. [. . .] In the menagerie with the Cole Bro¬thers’ Show this rare black camel stands between the herd of ordinary camels and the herd of llamas and its relation to both is strikingly brought out. Unlike the other camels it refuses to be¬come thoroughly domesticated. Its hair is longer than that of the ordinary cam¬el and not so much given to kinking. It is straight and of a finer texture, more like that of the llama. In form this animal has all the points of the camel but its limbs are smaller, and ears long¬er and more pointed.
CURIOUS BLACK CAMEL FORMS ATTRACTION OF BARNES’ CIRCUS, TO BE IN SANTA CRUZ MONDAY (Santa Cruz Evening News, 24th March, 1917). Holy Moses, a curious black camel from the strange, sunbaked desert in the vicinity of Mecca, is one of the star attractions of the Al. G. Barnes four-ring wild animal circus which will give two performances in Santa Cruz Monday. The capture and presenting to the public of this unusual attraction makes a good story. A party of hunters, who are ever seeking new features for this mammoth animal circus, J. A. Callahan, and others, traveled past the city of Mecca and, while encamped at an oasis one night, were awakened by the arrival or an Arab priest. The priest, who was riding a black camel, asked the hunters to give him refuge. [. . .] Captain Callahan, seeing the value the priest and black camel would be to the Barnes circus [. . .] brought the Mohamet priest, with Holy Moses, the black camel, to America and they are now with the circus. [. . .] the sight of the black camel clears up a long supposed belief that the black camel was totally extinct, though once believed to be the mother of all camels.
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