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Why Do Camels Have Humps?


Tales of camels plodding through the desert for days with little food and no water are no exaggeration, for these creatures are remarkably well adapted to desert life. Contrary to the common belief, however, a camel does not store water in its stomach or its hump.

Unlike most other mammals, a camel does not have a layer of fat under its skin. Instead, the fat is accumulated in the hump. When food and water are scarce, the camel utilizes this reserve for energy and as a water source. When the fat breaks down, hydrogen is released and combines with oxygen to form water. The animal also uses water from other body tissues in a similar way.

A camel can go for several days without drinking. As its tissues dehydrate, the creature can lose as much as 25 percent of its weight without suffering. But when it does find water, a thirsty camel may drink up to 30 gallons in 15 minutes. The water passes rapidly into its body tissues and soon revives the “wilted” beast.

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