1. A team of paleontologists discovered 30 bone shards from what they believe is a PREHISTORIC GIANT CAMEL.
The paper was published in Nature Communications.
2. The shards of tibia bone were found in the boreal forests of Canada’s High Arctic on Ellesmere Island.
Ellesmere Island is on the north-western tip of Greenland.
3. Scientists identified the creature by comparing the fossils’ prehistoric collagen to that of 37 other mammal species. Dromedary camels and prehistoric camels from the Yukon were the best match.
4. The site of discovery is 746 miles north of any latitude where camels have previously been found.
5. Based on the fossils’ size and shape, the critters were likely 9 feet tall and weighed a whopping 2,000 pounds.
6. The tiny bone fragments weathered multiple ice sheets and freeze-thaw cycles. All 30 fossils are smaller than 7 cm!
7. The camel’s full tibia would have been 22 inches long, which is 29% longer than a modern camel’s tibia.
8. They likely thrived 3.5 million years ago, when the camel was the largest artiodactyl in North America.
Artiodactyla are hoofed mammals with an even number of toes.
9. Scientists posit that they bulked up during the summer, then relied on their single, fatty hump to sustain them through harsh arctic winters.
10. Modern camels can be found in the expanse between northern Africa and the Asian interior, but their ancestors first evolved 45 million years ago in North America.
11. The last North American camels died out 12,000 years ago in a megafungal extinction, but some crossed the land bridge that once connected Alaska and eastern Siberia 7 million years ago.
12. The fossils suggest that the giant camels lived in a period of global warming. The Canadian High Arctic was 70 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is now, and the globe was 35 degrees warmer.
13. They’re also the first camels thought to have prowled lush boreal forests on the edge of the tundra, as opposed to arid deserts.
14. This suggests that iconic camel features, like the large hump, wide flat hooves, and large eyes, were originally adaptations for an arctic forest environment.
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