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Camels and llamas are similar in many ways, making it easier to confuse the two. These two species look so identical that one can not help but wonder, are camels and llamas related? Whenever one has looked at a llama, it is common to mistake it for a miniature camel.
Owing to their respective evolutionary histories, many things unite and separate these two species.
Both of these animals were domesticated thousands of years ago, and now modern species are farmed for wool, meat, and other labor.
Whether llamas and camels are associated with each other or not and where they fit into the family picture has a lot to do with the scientific classification.
An animal belonging to the same family, order, phylum are related to each other and often termed as close relatives or cousins. Can camels and llamas be counted as cousins? The confusion likely stemmed from the fact that both animals look quite alike.
Are Camels and Llamas Related?
Camels and llamas are not the same species, however, these two animals are closely related to each other.
Despite many similarities and similar appearances, these species can not be classified as one.
Camels and llamas are closely related as both animals belong to the Camelidae family which includes other animals like alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos.
Even these two species belong to the same order Artiodactyla that includes hoofed animals.
Both camels and llamas are classified as camelids, members of the Camelidae family. Almost all members of this family have a similar appearance but differ in color and size.
Camels and Llamas share the same kingdom, phylum, class, and order. These close relatives produced a hybrid species via artificial insemination known as Cama which was then named Rama by the crown prince of Dubai.
This animal was produced to get the wool of llama and even temperament of camel, on the contrary, Cama turned out to be quite moody.
Evolutionary History of Llamas and Camels
Coming from the same family, both llamas and camels have different evolutionary histories and some people suspect an ancestral connection. Looking at their origin will give you more understanding about their close relationship.
Llamas descended from their wild cousins in the Great Plains of North America around 40-50 million years ago.
They made their way to South America about 3 million years ago and were first domesticated around 4,500BC. Llamas are also called South American camels.
Despite being the native South American version of the camel, llamas do not live in deserts but prefer mountains and higher elevations.
Native to the Andes mountain, llamas are mainly found in the mountainous terrain.
More than camels, llamas are more closely associated with Guanaco, both these species have similar size and physical features.
Wild Guanaco is considered to be the ancestor of llamas. Guanaco is also part of the camelid family and a wild relative of llamas. They are descendants of Guanaco as confirmed by the DNA analysis.
There are a lot of similarities between these two animals, however, unlike Guanaco and vicuña, these were domesticated quite some time ago.
Llamas used to be compared with sheep a lot as both animals produce wool. However, their similarities with camels were evident, so, llamas and alpacas were included in the genus Camelus.
Llamas, alpacas, vicuña, and Guanaco are collectively called lamoids. These species lack the characteristic camel humps and have a smaller size and slender bodies.
Llama, being the largest of the four lamoids, has a close resemblance to the camel.
Llamas and camels do not have common ancestors, instead, modern camels are believed to be the descendants of the extinct Paracamelus.
True camels of the Camelidae family are the Bactrian Camel, Dromedary camel, and the Wild Bactrian camel. The “new age” camels include llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas.
Many fossil records suggest that the ancient camels had varying shapes and sizes, the smallest being the size of the rabbit and the largest having a height of (15ft) at the shoulder.
These camels migrated to different parts of the world; Asia, Africa, and South America. Now camel numbers in the world are more.
The South American camels did not evolve to have humps or the height of the true camel.
When studying the head of the llama, it can be compared to that of the ‘true camel’.
Why Do Llamas Look Like Camels?
Though llamas are not completely akin to the camels, however, they do have a striking resemblance to camels. Since llamas and camels are cousins, an onlooker would spot many similarities.
Besides the physical attributes, camels and llamas are quite alike in their behavioral patterns as well.
Both are extremely docile, domesticated animals with mild temperaments. Moreover, both llamas and camels have extraordinary ability to survive without water for a long time.
How are Camels and Llamas Different From Each Other?
Like dogs and cats, bobcat and lion, dogs and foxes, llamas, and camels are also different species coming from the opposite ends of the planet.
Humans asking this question are also closer to monkeys, it is quite common for animals of the same family to have some similar physical attributes.
Both are different species in the camel family living in different habitats. Camels, being ships of the desert, call deserts and arid regions their home.
They are large, big animals spread across the African, Asian, and Australian deserts.
All llama breeds are domesticated whereas one camel species is wild and many feral camels are found in Australian deserts.
Llamas are much smaller animals with no characteristic camel hump, specialized for the mountains and highlands of the Andes.
Mostly found in South America, these beautiful animals are kept and raised for their highly prized wool.
Camels and llamas have inherited many similarities as both come from the same family. Besides the height and the hump, these animals are similar to each other in many ways, in physical appearance and behavioral attributes.