It’s hard to find an animal better suited to its environment than a camel: almost every feature on a camel’s body is designed to help it survive in the harsh conditions of the desert.
There are two kinds of camel: the one-humped dromedary, and the two-humped Bactrian camel. Contrary to what most people believe, the humps don’t store water. They’re actually filled with fatty tissue. This helps keep fatty tissue from building up elsewhere on the camel’s body, which is useful because fat traps heat, and camels need to stay cool in the desert. The fat can also be turned into energy when food is scarce.
One of the most important things that a camel needs to do is conserve water. Camels can withstand changes in body temperature that would kill most other mammals, so they sweat very little. Their nostril trap water vapour in their breath and return it to their bodies, and their kidneys and digestive system are so good at removing water from their food that their dung is dry enough to be burned as fuel!
Camels also have lovely, long eyelashes. These are useful for keeping blowing sand out of a camel’s eyes. Their strange, knobby legs are also perfect for life in the desert, as the long legs keep them further from the hot ground, and their broad toes act almost like snowshoes which stop the camel from sinking into the sand.
Camels really are the most useful animal to have with you in the desert, and humans realized this a long time ago. Humans have been keeping camels for over four thousand years!