How Bactrian Camels Survive

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Pablo Edronkin

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Bactria wasn't just an important place for Alexander the Great; it leaves us with some interesting things to learn from, and anyone looking to lose weight would be interested in the case of the bactrian camel ('Camelus bactrianus'), an animal that can naturally suffer the loss of up to a quarter of its total body mass and weight without any compromise to its health, and can even alter its temperature in about four degrees Celsius with no problems at all.


Camelids inhabit vast desert areas around the world and have adapted themselves perfectli for survival there.
Camelids inhabit vast desert areas around the world and have adapted themselves perfectli for survival there.

The bactrian camel has been used thousands of years in caravans, including those that served to communicate Europe with the far east all thorough Asia (the fabled silk road). This is an animal that comes from the Tarim valley, located in the Turkmenistan of China, and can also be found in a wild state in the Goby and Lob-nor region.

Today it is still used by the nomads of Mongolia and it is kept in very high regard by these people, as it always was by their masters, because the bactrians need very little water to survive, and this solves one of the main survival problems in arid and desert regions of all kinds, where water is indeed very scarce ands as we know, of critical consumption.


Camels are invaluable for humans that live in almost any desert.
Camels are invaluable for humans that live in almost any desert.

The two camelbacks of the bactrian are really fat deposits; when there is no water available, the fat is metabolised and turned into hydrogen, which combined with the oxygen that comes with the animal's respiration, produces all the water that the camel needs for survival. This is why these camels need only very little water from time to time; this species has developed an extremely highly efficient way of dealing with water: they don't even need it for the regulation of their body temperature, something that is quite common and important in the case of most other mammals.



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