Extinct Western Camel, Camelops hesternus
February 2009

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Camelops hesternus. Arthur Weasley,
via Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

*How Do We Know This? Like living animals, fossil remains of once-living animals are
classified and grouped according to their relationships to each other and to their ancestors.

(Cui et al 2007) (Dalquest 1992) (Honey et al 1998)(Janis et al 2002)(Kurtén & Anderson 1980) (McKenna and Bell 1997) (Webb 1977) (Whistler and Webb 2005)

Describer (Date): Leidy 1873

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
             Order: Artiodactyla (pigs, camels, deer, giraffes, cattle, and their kin)
                Superfamily: Cameloidea
                    Family: Camelidae
                          Subfamily: Camelinae
                              Tribe Lamini (extinct genera, guanacos,llamas, vicuñas)
                                    Genus: Camelops
                                          Species: Camelops hesternus - Extinct Western Camel or Yesterday's Camel
                              Tribe: Camelini (extinct genera plus dromedary and bactrian camels)                                  

Taxonomic History and Nomenclature

*How Do We Know This? Scientists use knowledge of the earth's rocks, global plate tectonic movements,
and the chemical process of fossilization to make sense of fossil distribution patterns and ancient habitats.

(Shaw 2001) (Webb et al 2006)

Prehistoric Distribution:

*How Do We Know This? Careful study of fossil bone or tooth anatomy yields much exact information
about placement and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
In rare cases, skin and hair impressions or actual skin or hair is preserved.
Body weight is more difficult to gauge because fat leaves no impression on the skeleton.

(Dalquest 1992) (Janis et al 2002) (Webb 1965)

Estimated Body Weight: Perhaps up to 800 kg (1764 lbs)
    ( 20 % larger than than modern camels that weigh 650 kg (1,433 lbs)
Estimated Height at Shoulder: 2.2 m (7 ft)
Tail Length: A short tail

General Description
Teeth   Pelage   Sexual Dimorphism Other Physical Characteristics

*How Do We Know This? Since direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible, paleontologists
use comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can sometimes reveal further clues.

(Gauthier-Pilters & Dagg) (Lockley and Hunt 1995) (Morgan & Rinehartl 2007) (Webb 1972)

Social Life
  Locomotion Interspecies Interaction

*How Do We Know This? Clues to fossil mammals' diets come from teeth,skull shape,
from fossil dung and gut contents, from lab analysis of oxygen isotopes in bone and teeth,
and by looking at diets of similar modern animals.

(Dompierre & Churcher 1996) (Vetter et al 2008)

*How do We Know This? Isotope studies of elements present fossil bones and tusks
in microscopic quantities give information about timing of reproductive stress, and timing of nursing.
Clues to stages of development come from tooth replacement patterns and closure of sutures
in skull and limb bones.

(Morgan & Rinehart 2007)

Life Stages

*How do We Know This? Abnormalities in fossils bones may show
evidence of arthritis, cancer, nutritional stress, fractures and more.

(Morgan et al 2005) (Rothschild 2003)

Important Web Resources (including where to view fossils in museums):

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