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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Camelops, Camelops hesternus

Camelops, an extinct genus of camel, was found in North America in places like Arizona and they first appeared there in the late Pliocene era. There are six known species in this genus. Camelops became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era, around ten thousand years ago. The Camelops extinction was part of a larger die-off of other large animals including mastodons, horses, and camelids. The Clovis Culture, producing a burst in technology by humans, is thought to have been the cause of this mass extinction.

Because tissue is not typically preserved on fossils, it is difficult to tell if Camelops had a hump on its back, as modern camels do. One specimen of the Camelops hesternus species was found to have been around seven feet tall. Like modern camels, Camelops most likely ate whatever plants material was available, making it an opportunistic herbivore.

One specimen of an ancient camel was found at a digging site where a Wal-Mart store was to be built, giving it the name “the Wal-Mart Camel”.  A landscaping crew was digging a hole for an ornamental citrus tree when they discovered the bones of an infant and adult camel. Wal-Mart officials and John Babiarz, the owner of Greenfield Citrus Nursery whose crew found the bones, gave the remains to the Geology Museum at Arizona State University so research could be done on them. In 2008, other camel remains were found in Gilbert, Arizona.

Image Caption: Skeleton of the extinct western camel (Camelops hesternus) in the foreground, in the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, California. Background spotlights have been removed with Photoshop. The western camel stood seven feet tall at the shoulder, similar in size to the living Asian Bactrian camel. An American mastodon (Mammut americanum) mother and child are behind the camel. Credit: WolfmanSF/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Camelops Camelops hesternus