This has to be a joke....

Tuesday February 6 12:04 PM ET
Rare Salt-Water Camel May Be Separate Species

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A rare breed of wild, salt water-drinking camels found in China and Mongolia are now thought to be a different species from their domesticated cousins, the United Nations (news - web sites) said on Tuesday.
© Reuters 2000. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.
Moderator’s Notes: Remainder of copyrighted article deleted. Gond, you are off to a bad start here. Do not ever again post copyrighted work to this site in its entirety as you did here. Small portions of such work are allowable when used to illustrate a point. The best method is to post a link to the work in question and write your own synopsis. As a newspaper, the Chicago Reader, relies heavily upon, and supports enthusiastically, copyright protections.

Here’s the significant portion of the registration agreement you consented to when you signed on at this message board.

Now, go forth and sin no more, grasshopper.

[Edited by UncleBeer on 02-06-2001 at 04:48 PM]

Ummm… Why?

If it is a joke, I don’t get it? :confused:

Searching for “NAIROBI (Reuters) - A rare breed” turned up nothing, so I would have to say that, yes it is a joke, but I don’t see any punch line in your post. Care to clue us in?

Or at least give us the link to the Reuters page?

It’s evidently no joke.

It’s on
Was that all you wanted, to know if it was a joke? It’s not.

Nope it’s not a joke, here is the link to the Reuters article:

FTR, Reuters won’t give you an article from the URL, even if you do Copy Shortcut. All you get is a message:


PITA, huh.

I could see how they would think it was a joke with something like this in the article:


Where is there salt water in Mongolia? Unless it’s a very localized species.

It’s (apparently) real.

UncleBeer: Got it. Will sin no more. (Who reads the disclaimer?? (jk))

Attrayant & DuckDuckGoose: I got it from Yahoo! News ( )

Da Rest: C’mon! It has all the earmarks! Salt-water drinking, genetically-mutated camels found in China’s old nuke testing grounds (in use until just 5 years ago), but being forced into extinction by mine-weilding, hungry nomads (who just happen to live in the same nuked area)??? Doesn’t anyone find this at least SLIGHTLY odd??? It wouldn’t be the first time a hoax has slipped past the news services…

Alrighty then, I guess we need to get some biochemists in here pronto. I mean, isn’t salt a desiccant? How can any form of life that needs water for survival take in so much salt at the same time? I seem to remember that there is some fundamental obstacle with cell metabolism & high levels of salt in the blood.

Well, saltwater fish and mammals are able to survive by an adaptation in their nephrons. This was also on NPR this morning. I thought it odd that the preferrd method for harvesting these animals was landmines. I don’t imagine there would be a lot of meat left…

Regarding drinking salt water:

What do you think whales and such drink? How much salt you can get away with drinking depends on how efficient your kidney is. There are limits, but some mammalian kidneys can be pretty good. I’d have to look up how well camels do, but it’s probably a lot better than humans.

Regarding salt water in Mongolia: Haven’t you ever heard of the Great Salt Lake in Utah? Many large and small bodies of water in inland areas are salty due to excess evaporation, often much saltier than the sea.

And Gond, the article says nothing about the animals being genetically mutated. It seems to be using “new species” on the sense of being newly dicovered, not newly evolved. The animals survived in the nuclear testing range because people were previously prevented from hunting there; they weren’t spawned like some Japanese movie monster.

The article, like much “filler” material in the media, has evidently been so heavily edited that most of the information that the reporter may have originally included has been deleted. However, reading between the lines, I don’t see any reason to think it’s a joke - it’s just that 90% of the explanatory detail that would make it make more sense has been left out.

You’re right; the article doesn’t say that these camels were “genetically mutated” as I said. It does say, however that they are virtually indistiguishable from the known domesticated Bactrian camels, excepting for the fact that the supposed new breed drinks salt water. If you are going to point out salt water mammals that drink salt water (as if none of us has considered that already), then please point out any LAND MAMMALS that do so also; I have never seen a sea-camel, so I don’t think that your comparison is valid. I don’t know that a salt water drinking land mammal is impossible, but I sure have never heard of such a thing, and I believe that that is part of the argument that several people (including myself) are trying to find the answers to.

Okay. I was wrong. So sue me. It appears that Colibri was correct; this article has merely had all semblence of credibility hacked away from what was originally a well written report. See this link for the full story:

Here are the major points as the article explained them…

Nomadic tossed-camel salad defined: “The remoteness of the area has helped preserve these camels,” Mr. Hare said. “The fact that people were not allowed in by the Chinese government has also helped them survive. But with the cessation of nuclear tests, illegal hunters and miners…are moving in. We found landmines put by the saltwater springs. So when the camels come to drink…bang.”

The Reuter’s article stated that the Chinese nuke tests stopped in '96, but the NatGeographic article says differently: “The wild camels live in the dunes of the Kum Tagh (sand mountain) region of Xinjiang—used for nuclear weapons tests and off limits to people since 1955—and have adapted to the salty water bubbling up from beneath the sand.” “These camels can withstand enormous physiological stress,” said Kate Rae, a trustee of the foundation. “Scientists are extremely interested to know how their liver, kidneys, and lungs can withstand the salt.”
I guess there really ARE land-whales and such!

P.S. - I hope I didn’t overquote stuff…

Well, I’m glad you’re convinced. :wink:

My remark about whales was just to indicate that kidneys of at least some mammals can deal with the ingestion of salt water. IIRC, all camels are fairly tolerant of salty water and have the ability to excrete highly concentrated urine. The citation of the ability to drink salt water as a distinguishing characteristic for a “species” is really nothing but a bunch of journalistic nonsense. Evidently they are more tolerant than domestic camels, but I suspect that even regular camels can drink water salty enough to make a human sick.