May 3, 2015

Scientists link ancient Arctic camel to modern breed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

OTTAWA (AP) — Ancient, mummified camel bones dug from the tundra confirm that the animals now synonymous with the arid sands of Arabia actually developed in subfreezing forests in what is now Canada’s High Arctic, a scientist said Tuesday.
About 3.5 million years ago, Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island’s west-central coast would have looked more like a northern forest than an Arctic landscape, said paleobotanist Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
“Larch-dominated, lots of wetlands, peat,” said Rybczynski, lead author of a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Nearby fossil sites have yielded evidence of ancient bears, horses, deer, badgers and frogs. The average yearly temperature would have been about 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).
“If you were standing in it and watching the camel, it would have the feel of a boreal-type forest.”
The Arctic camel was 30 percent larger than modern camels, she said. Her best guess is it was one-humped.
Although native camels are now only found in Africa and Asia, scientists have long believed the species actually developed in North America and later died out. Camel remains have been previously found in the Yukon.
What makes Rybczynski’s find special is not only how far north it was found, but its state of preservation.
The 30 fragments found in the sand and pebbles of the tundra were mummified, not fossilized. So despite their age, the pieces preserved tiny fragments of collagen within them, a common type of protein found in bones.
Analyzing that protein not only proved the fragments were from camels, but from a type of camel that is much more closely related to the modern version than the Yukon camel. Out of the dozens of camel species that once roamed North America, the type Rybczynski found was one of the most likely to have crossed the Bering land bridge and colonized the deserts.
“This is the one that’s tied to the ancestry of modern camels,” she said.

Comments

comments

Education

Livingstone rejoices during Saturday commencement

Business

Central NC Landtrust selects new executive director

News

State commission to consider Rowan’s loan, refinancing

Business

David Post column: Entrepreneurs are winners with their big ideas

Business

Rowan Medical Center working to improve patients’ experience

Local

Moose looks to raise awareness about homelessness with cross-state trip

News

Realty contract, closed session dot commissioners agenda

News

Bids come in for private food services at jail

Business

Leadership speaker, Leadership Rowan graduates to be featured at Chamber of Commerce breakfast

Landis

Landis Board of Aldermen to meet Monday

Business

Food Lion stores offering discounts to teachers Tuesday

Local

A celebration of simpler times: Annual Simple Living Festival showcases ‘old time’ ways locals love

Local

Classic and vintage motorcycles on display at 9th annual Carolina show

Business

Business Roundup: Retired chiropractor honored with lifetime achievement award

Crime

Kannapolis firefighter accused of shooting man after fight

News

Tickled about art and music: Salisbury Symphony, high school students unveil artistic pianos throughout downtown

News

Zoning board approves variance near High Rock Lake

News

“Uplifting and humbling”: Relay for Life gets underway at fairgrounds

Local

Books for sale: Library continues annual sale today

News

Political Notebook: General assembly heading into home stretch of 2015 session

Education

Dominique Smith is graduating from Livingstone, despite the odds

Check this out

Last chance to see Rowan Museum’s WWI exhibit drawing near

Concord

Kannapolis firefighter suspended following shooting death of a Charlotte man

News

Carolinians Paying the Highest Gas Prices of the Year