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Bactrian Camel

One of the only two remaining species within the genus Camelus still existing today, the other one being the Arabian Camel or Dromedary (fig.). Four more species in this genus are today extinct. The Bactrian Camel is native to the the steppes of central Asia and is commonly found in remote regions, such as China's Gobi Desert. With an estimated 1.4 million of them it the smallest member of the camel family, with most of its members being domesticated. The Bactrian Camel, which is also commonly referred to as just Camel, is known by the scientific name Camelus bactrianus. In contrast to the Arabian Camel, which has only one hump on its back, the Bactrian Camel has two humps, which are in fact large fat reserves. Camels can drink up to 60-100 liters of water in just 10 minutes, which -contrary to popular belief- they do not store in their humps, but in their stomachs, from where they release it only slowly into the blood flow, preventing any damage that would occur with other mammals if they would drink such large quantities in such a short time. Unlike most other mammals, which mostly have thick and rounded blood platelets, those of camels are rather flat and oval-shaped, which makes them circulate much faster through the bloodstream, a feature which is said to help prevent dehydration. Consequently, camels can lose up to 30% of their body fluid before experiencing adverse consequences, whereas people and most other mammals can lose only about 10% of their body fluid, after which nausea will set in and even blindness or death may occur. In addition, the camel is uniquely equipped with special adaptations, that allow it to go for days without drinking, i.e. its nose humidifies dry air as it breaths in, then de-humidifies it on the way out, thus conserving precious water, and its body temperature can rise by 6 degrees Celsius before it even begins to sweat. It also has thick fur that keeps it warm at night, whilst it reflects the sunlight by day. Both camel species have long been used as domesticated draft (fig.) and working animals (fig.), and were an indispensible means of transportation in the cross-country trade per caravan over inhospitable terrain, such as certain parts of the ancient Silk Road. Due to their important role in history as beasts of burden, not in the least on the aforementioned trade route, Bactrian Camels are sometimes portrayed in Chinese art and iconography (fig.).