Sally the Camel Has...Two Humps

Dec 21, 2012

Brasdis-Nixon Family

If you have kids (or have watched Barney when you were a kid), I’m sure you’re well aware of the song about Sally the Camel and how she eventually became a horse.  If not, you can listen to part of the song here.  It's track #11.

It’s quite a catchy tune.  This song leads me to my next wonder:  Why do camels have humps and what is in those humps?

We, the Wonder Family Nixon, discovered the answer while visiting the Louisville Zoo and I have to say that it makes total sense when you actually think about the answer.

Contrary to popular belief, the humps of camels are more than just seats for desert travelers, although the desert does have a lot to do with the logic behind the hump.  Camels live in the desert, which means they are unable to find a consistent source of water.  Because of this, their humps are used as storage.

So theoretically, water is stored in the humps, right?


Fat is stored in the humps of camels.  Fat is a lasting energy source and it helps animals survive harsh climates and unpredictable food sources.  It’s kind of like carrying an extra gallon of gas in case of an emergency.  A camel can survive up to 6-7 months without food or water and the longer they go without nourishment, the more visibly deflated their humps will become.  No need to worry, though.  After receiving food and/or water, their humps will plump back up in a matter of days.

Something else that is very interesting about camels is that they can gulp up to 30 gallons in mere minutes, which is about half the amount than a standard bathtub can hold.  And did you know there are two species of camels?  They are classified by how many humps they have.

A Dromedary camel has 1 hump and is the most common species of camel. They can usually be found in Northern Africa and Arabia.

Bactrian camels, however, have two humps are nearly extinct.  These camels can be found in Central and East Asia, where the climate is also harsh, but usually much colder and has less reliable food sources than that of their common counterparts.  Because of this fact, Bactrian camels need two humps, or two “extra gallons of gas” in case of emergencies.

Each hump (on a healthy camel) weighs approximately 80 lbs., so a Bactrian camel carries a minimum 160 lbs. of personal cargo.  Add a couple of trunks filled with traveling essentials, a couple of travelers, and their canteens, camels can carry quite a heavy load.  Camels may not be the fastest way to get somewhere, but they are hardy and can last a long time without refueling.

So if you’re planning a trip in the near future, skip the planes, trains, and automobiles and opt for a camel.  Not only do bags travel free, but there’s no need to stop for gas.  What a cheap way to travel!

Thanks for reading and remember to always wonder!

<3 Sam

PS:  I forgot to issue a challenge!

Think about it – Pretend you are preparing for a long, harsh trip.  You’ll need to pack for the elements, but you want to make sure you can comfortably carry everything in a book bag.  What things would you take? How would you prepare?  Comment on this post and let me know!


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