Mummified Camel Remains could Answer many Important Questions

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"Mummified Camel Remains could Answer many Important Questions"
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A group of scientists recently announced they had found a remarkable set of animal remains. The mummified bones were of a giant ancient camel, which is noteworthy in itself, however, what makes this discovery really unique is that the camel's remains were not found in a desert region, but in the frosty Canadian Arctic.

The fossils were found in 2006 on Ellesmere Island in the Nunavut territory, and scientists have determined the massive camel lived 3.5 million years ago. This is the most northern region where the remains of camels have ever been found. This camel was described as being 30 percent larger than modern day camels are in terms of size.

A New York Times piece notes that in 1913 camel fossils were also found in the Yukon Territory, another frigid region in the modern day, but nowhere near as north as Ellesmere Island.

“It’s a surprise when you first hear it,” said Natalia Rybczynski, a paleontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, reported the New York Times. “But the Arctic in the winter was like a desert at that time.”

Rybczynski is the lead author of the report that centers on the ancient camel remains.

It is believed by experts that northern Canadian climate possessed desert-like temperatures at that time during the warm months; winters were believed to be brutally cold.

“It’s a really nice example of pre-adaptability,” Dr. Rybczynski said.

According to Rybcyznski, other smaller mammal fossils were found in the vicinity of the massive camel. These included bears, horses, deer, frogs and badgers; all are ancient remains, reported the Canadian Press (courtesy of The Record).

Modern theory believes that camels did not originate in Africa and Asia, but in North America. This find helps further solidify that theory.

The remains are said to have been remarkably preserved, being mummified, not fossilized, said the Canada Press report.

What other important aspect of this finding is the climate changes associated with this comparing ancient climates to today. Rybczynski and her colleagues believe the Canadian Arctic was 14 to 22 degrees warmer than it is today.

“This is a super-important time analogue. This is a period of time that’s being referred to as a historical analogue for future warming,” Rybczynski said. “If we can understand why we were getting this crazy warming at high latitudes in the past, maybe we can be more confident in our models and forecasting.”

The full report was published earlier this week in the journal Nature Communications.

More about this author: Leigh Goessl

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