Is it possible the camel in my collage had ancestors that lived within the Arctic Circle? So it would seem. Beautiful, cold, Ellesemere Island may have been home to the first camels. Fossils--mere fragments from a large tibia--offer clues to the camel's origins. Identification of these fragments was possible through examination of collagen found in bits of bone. DNA from the collagen matched DNA from collagen in modern-day camels.
Fosheim Peninsula and Sawtooth Range on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada
Picture credit: Ansgar Walk, CC 3.0 license.
The method of identifying fossils through collagen DNA is called collagen fingerprinting, and has been used to identify other fossils.
Here's a YouTube video that describes the discovery on Ellesmere Island.
It is believed that when early camels lived on Ellesmere, the earth's climate was warmer. It is also estimated that the Arctic camel was about 30% larger than today's camel.
Camels May Have Migrated Across the Bering Land Bridge
Map credit: U. S. Government. No copyright restrictions.
I used Paint 3D to make this GIF. The alpaca had to serve because Paint 3D did not have a camel picture. However, the alpaca is in the camel family and also is believed to be a descendant of the Arctic camel. The Alpaca's ancestors went south into North and South America, instead of east into Asia.
Flat Camel Feet
One of the reasons a camel is sure-footed on snow, sand and rocky terrain is because it has large, flat feet. It also has two toes that spread apart when the animal stands. This results in a firmer stance.
The Two-Toed Camel
Picture Credit: Spencer Davis on Unsplash. Copyright free
Evolution of the Camel
Three camel species evolved from the early Arctic ancestor that migrated into Asia: the dromedary, the Bactrian, and the Wild Bactrian. Over the last 1000 years these species have physically adapted to different habitats.
Picture credit: lonelyshrimp. Copyright free
Dromedaries have one hump. They are suited to arid, hot climates. They may be found today mostly in North Africa, on the Arabian peninsula and in Southwest Asia. There also is a significant feral population of dromedaries in Australia. These feral camels are descendants of those imported by settlers more than a hundred years ago. Many of the introduced camels were released into the wild, where they proliferated. Today the population continues to grow at a rapid rate.
The Bactrian and Wild Bactrian have two humps. These camels may be found in only a few areas--in northwest China and in the Gobi Desert of southwest Mongolia. The animals' physiques are designed for survival. They can drink vast amounts of water at one time. The Wild Bactrian may even consume salty, brackish water without ill effect. They easily live in cold climates, with rocky terrain.
Wild Bactrian Camels are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species).
The Camel's Hump
The camel's hump does not hold water. It contains stored fat. When times are hard and food is scarce, the camel draws nutrients from the hump. After a period of scarcity, the hump may shrink and droop. In good times, when food is plentiful, the hump grows plump again.
Contrasting Well-Nourished and Poorly Nourished Camels
Picture Credit: Alexandr Frolov. CC 4.0
These camels are grazing in the Altai Mountains, Mongolia. The animal in the foreground has severely drooping humps, probably due to illness. Its companions seem to be doing fine.
I'll end on a racy note. The three species of camel mate successfully with each other. Often this crossbreeding is instigated by camel breeders. The hybrid offspring are considered to be more tolerant of weather variations, more compliant, and hardier than their purebred peers. The hybrids are fertile, but less so than their parents.
A Parting Look From a Thoughtful Camel
Credit: Henryhbk. Public domain.
The first thing I noted in the photo was the suggestion (to me) of an eye. This became the center around which I worked. Apparently my friend @elcorrecamino also saw an eye, for he interpreted the same space brilliantly as an eye. His collage may be viewed here.
I knew I wanted to make an Egyptian-themed collage, and very soon in the process decided the camel would be important. After that, and many false starts, the idea of an oasis evolved. Elements in the collage are all public domain:
Bedouin on a camel: Pixabay
Egyptian profile on top of the building and figure descending the stairs: Unsplash
The design for the border GIF was extracted from the Unsplash source, previously cited
The shrubs and fountain in the foreground, and the rock border on top of the dune came from Paint 3D. I put everything together by juggling mostly between Paint and Paint 3D
Here's a picture of one of the earliest stages, when I was playing around and trying to figure out how I was going to develop the collage:
Eventually I placed the camel on scene:
The scheme in my head was clear at this point. Getting there wasn't exactly easy :)
It's obvious I put a lot of time into this blog. A great experience, a wonderful, creative exercise. Food for the brain and the spirit. Thank you @shaka for nurturing a community of enthusiastic creators. Some of us are rank amateurs (me) but you open the door to everyone.