Educational Questions & Answers

How does the camel walk in the desert easily?

The camel is dubbed the `ship of the desert'. It can adapt itself easily to the hot conditions due to various reasons. Its special adaptation features are its hump, long legs, long hair and special eyelids.

The hump enables it to store food. Long hair on its body helps it keep warm in the cold desert nights.

The long legs of the camel are strong and have powerful muscles allowing it to carry heavy loads for long distances. It walks at a medium speed. It has two toes on each foot. A hoof that looks like a toenail grows at the front of each toe. The camel walks on a broad pad that connects its two toes. This cushion like pad spreads when the camel places its foot on the ground.

The pad supports the animal on loose sand in much the same way that a snowshoe helps a person walk on snow. The pad enables the animal to firmly grasp the earth. The toenails protect the feet from damages resulting from a bump. In the camel both legs on the same side rise and fall together. This leg action produces a swaying, rocking motion. Taller animals like the camel snap into a rotary walk more often than short animals.

This helps them to shift the balance on one side of a body while the long legs on the other side are in a suspended phase. In the rotary motion on one side they put both legs forward and on the other side they are both back. Thick, broad sole pads and thick callosities on the joints of the legs and on the chest, upon which it rests in a kneeling position, enable it to withstand the heat of the desert sand. It is also able to close its nostrils against flying dust and its eyes are shielded by eyelashes.

The camel has three eyelids and two layers of eyelashes to protect itself from dust and sun. To protect their eyes, camels have long eyelashes that catch most of the sand when desert winds blow sand on to their eyes.

If sand gets into an eye a camel has a third eyelid to get it out. The extra eyelid moves from side to side and wipes the sand away. As the eyelid is very thin the camel can see through it. So a camel can find its way through a sandstorm with its eyes closed.

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How does the camel walk in the desert easily?