Blancocamelus sp.—Blancocamelus Camels // Blancocamelus meadei—Meade's Camel // Camelops—American Camels // Camelops hesternus—Yesterday's Camel // Gigantocamelus—Giant Camel // Hemiauchenia—North American Llamas // Hemiauchenia blancoensis—Blanco Llama // Hemiauchenia gracilis—Gracile Llama // Hemiauchenia macrocephala—Big-headed Llama // Megatylopus—Big Camels // Palaeolama—Ancient Llama
Camels underwent most of their evolution in North America, with the Asiatic and African camels the descendants of emigrants from this continent. The llamas and relatives of South America likewise trace their ancestry to North America. Despite apparently healthy populations heading into the terminal phases of the Wisconsin-age glaciation, however, the North American species were gone by the end of the age.
Camels generally differ sufficiently in post-cranial elements from other large herbivores to allow identification. The feet of camels are especially different from bovids in that the entire digit lies parallel to the ground rather than only the terminal phalanx supporting the weight of the animal. Associated with this are unique phalangeal morphologies and metapodials with spreading distal ends. In common with the Ruminantia, metapodials III and IV are fused to form a cannonbone. As with some of the more cursorial ruminants, side digits have been lost evolutionarily and the shaft of the fibula lost. The radius and ulna are solidly fused. Cervical vertebrae are greatly elongated to form the typically long necks of camelids. Molars are hypsodont.
Fig. 1. Ventral views of the fused metatarsals III and IV along with the first, second, and third phalanges of an immature South American modern camelid, Vicugna vicugna (Vicuña), illustrating typical camelid foot characteristics. Scale in mm.
Late Blancan: 111 Ranch (Morgan and White 2005).
Literature. Morgan and White 2005.
Vanderhill (1986) identified a radio-ulna as this taxon on the basis of the extreme length and slenderness of the element. He noted that it is almost identical to examples from the Blanco local fauna and that this locality is the first definite record outside of the type locality.
Kurtén and Anderson (1980) suggested that this taxon may be a late survivor of the giraffe-camels that were prominent in the Miocene.
Fig. 1. Right radio-ulna of Blancocamelus meadei from the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico.
Latest Blancan: La Union (Morgan and Lucas 2003).
Literature. Kurtén and Anderson 1980; Morgan and Lucas 2003; Vanderhill 1986.
Last Update: 17 Mar 2013