Bactrian & Dromedary camels

Does anyone know why bactrian camels have two humps and Dromedary one?
And where do you put the saddle?

They have the humps they have because they do. <lol> Animals don’t have anatomical aspects for any reason other than: a) God made it that way, or b) they evolved that way by happenstance (choose your flavor).

On a dromedary, the person rides on top of the hump. On a bactrian, between the humps, if ridden at all. My understanding is that Bactrians aren’t usually ridden, being quite slow by comparison to dromedary camels; instead they get used as cargo containers. I have been known to be wrong, and may once again be wrong in this case. :slight_smile:

Dromedary camels have one hump because they’re descended from camels with one hump.
Bactrian camels have two humps because they’re descended from camels with two humps.

That’s the only “why” I can come up with. You might as well ask why humans have, at most, one hump.

Bactrian camel saddles.

Is the social scene really that bad in Ohio?

Thanks, DDG! Could/shoulda counted upon you to provide appropriate linkages. :slight_smile:

As for the one hump comment and Ohio, :eek:

Bactrian camels have two humps to help kids remember which is which - turn a B sideways, and you have two humps. Turn a D (for dromedary) sideways, and there’s only one hump.

Yeah, yeah. Don’t the biologists usually find some sort of evolutionary advantage when there’s some significant difference in two closely related animals? You know, like the stripes on a tiger versus the tawny coat of a lion?

That might be applicable if camels weren’t messed with by man. As it is, most remaining populations are either domesticated or feral, meaning the camels we see today aren’t necessarily “as nature intended”. They could well have been bred to have different numbers of humps, based on the whims of the breeders.

If man keeps messing up things, some day we’ll have three-humped camels. :smiley:

Which would still be an evolutionary advantage.
Look, all I’m asking for is either that no one has managed to find out why or someone has and here’s the answer. I don’t need lessons in the mechanics of evolution. :mad:

Whoa, someone seems a little cranky. Here’s a little musical interlude to soothe you.

Dromedaries and bactrian camels are two different species (Camelus dromedarius and Camelus bactrianus, respectively). Asking why one has one hump and the other two is akin to asking why horses, wild asses and zebras (all species of Equus) look different from each other… it’s probably a mixture of selective evolutionary pressures and happenstance. I don’t think there’s much more to it than that.

Since the humps are made of fat and tissue, it would be extremely rare for the humps to be fossilized with the bones. As far as I can determine, no one has any fossil evidence of one hump evolving into two in some populations, or vice versa.

Nope. Artifical selection is a different animal from evolution via natural selection.

But here’s the problem: answering “why” questions for specific traits found in organisms almost invariably necessitates an evolutionary discussion, even if the answer to “why” is “no particular reason”, or even “nobody knows”.

The common ancestor of bactrians and dromedaries was Camelus ferus, which had two humps. It is believed that dromedaries lost one of their humps in the process of domestication (most bactrian/dromedary hybrids have only one hump). They “why” may well have been because breeding in camels has largely been for a more efficient beast of burden, and one hump probably allows for greater loads. As to why C. ferus had two humps…that is not entirely known. It may have something to do with the preferred environment of current dromedaries: cold, arid regions, as opposed to the hot, arid regions favored by dromedaries.

Interestingly enough, the Pleistocene ancestor of Camelus ferus (Gigantocamelus or Titanotylopus, depending on the preferred classification) is thought to have had just one hump. And honestly, the two humps of C. ferus bactrianus are kind of puny compared to the domesticated C. bactrianus. So another possibility could be one ancestral hump -> speciation into wild one hump & two tiny humps -> domesticated one hump & two big humps.

This page is pretty interesting:

http://www.camelphotos.com/camel_breeds.html

The two species can interbreed and produce fertile hybrids.

Apparently you DO need a lesson in the mechanics of evolution. Your implicit assumption in the OP shows you do. It assumes that two species have different genetic make up for a particular reason, and that we can figure out that reason on a post hoc basis. The first assumption is incorrect, because sometimes the reason simply is happenstance; a genetic change occurred and it didn’t result in any disadvantage to the new species. The second assumption is one made by many (including, sadly, many scientists), and is also incorrect; at best we can speculate, but one cannot ever know why something happens post hoc.

Impossible! We don’t have a three-humped letter.

Well, what would we want with Wamels?

C’mon, everyone knows those are points, not humps.

Heck, I know a man named Mister Gump. Mister Gump has a seven-hump wump!

(Why yes, I have small children, what makes you ask?)