The Purpose of Camels Humps

Did you know that camels’ humps do not contain water, as commonly believed?

Camels are a unique species that has been around for 45 million years. Each animal has its own distinct feature that sets it apart from others, and for camels, that feature is their humps.

Even children recognize that camels are not camels without their humps. But most people are unaware of the actual functions of these bumps.

The Development of Humps on Camels

Camels are currently found in the Middle East and parts of Asia, but they originally came from North America and also roamed the Arctic regions. Gradually, they developed humps on their backs to cope with the cold climate. Today, scientists believe that the humps help regulate the camels’ body temperature.

A Convenient Handle for Camel Riders

Camel humps were present long before humans, but ancient camel riders found them useful as a handle to hold on to during long journeys. While camels did not develop humps for human comfort, people are grateful for the comfortable seat that the humps provide during travel.

The Truth About Water Storage

Contrary to popular belief, camels do not store excess water in their humps. This myth was developed to explain how camels can survive for weeks without water. In fact, scientists now believe that oval-shaped blood cells, not the humps, contribute to the camels’ endurance to dehydration.

Humps as Energy Storage

Camels store energy in their humps during times when food sources are scarce. When the desert dries out or vegetation dies during harsh winters, camels rely on the fat stored in their humps. Camel traders often determine the health of a camel by the size of its humps, as bigger humps indicate a well-nourished animal.

Humps as Temperature Regulators

In the desert, temperatures fluctuate drastically between day and night. Fatty tissue in camel humps serves as insulation against these temperature changes, helping the camels regulate their body temperature.

Camels have humps that act as a barrier against the sun’s heat, preventing it from penetrating their bodies. This helps to reduce water loss by preventing sweating. This is how camels are able to endure long journeys in hot desert environments without overheating. Some camels have two humps, known as Bactrian camels, which are typically larger than Dromedary camels with only one hump. While there is no scientific explanation for why Bactrian camels have two humps, it is speculated that it may be due to their harsher environment in the Gobi desert, where temperatures can drop as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Now you know the main functions of a camel’s humps! If you have any additional insights, please share them in the comments.


1. What is the purpose of a camel’s hump?

The hump on a camel’s back is actually a lump of fat that serves as a source of energy when food and water are scarce. Camels can store up to 80 pounds of fat in their humps, which they can use to survive for weeks without food or water.

2. How do camels get water from their humps?

Contrary to popular belief, camels do not actually store water in their humps. Instead, the hump stores fat, which can be converted into water and used by the camel’s body for hydration. Camels can also drink up to 30 gallons of water at once and store it in their stomachs for later use.

3. Are all camels born with humps?

No, not all camels are born with humps. Only dromedary camels, also known as Arabian camels, have one hump, while Bactrian camels have two humps. Camel humps develop over time as the camel eats and stores fat in the hump.

4. How long can a camel survive without food and water?

A camel can survive for weeks without food and water thanks to its ability to store fat and water in its body. However, the exact amount of time a camel can survive without water depends on various factors such as the temperature and the camel’s size and health.

5. Do camels use their humps for insulation?

Yes, camels do use their humps for insulation. The hump’s thick layer of fat helps to insulate the camel’s body against extreme temperatures, keeping it cool during hot days and warm during cold nights.

6. Can a camel’s hump be removed?

No, a camel’s hump cannot be removed without causing serious harm to the animal. The hump is an integral part of the camel’s body and is necessary for its survival in hot, arid climates.

7. How much weight can a camel carry on its back?

A healthy adult camel can carry up to 600 pounds on its back, but this varies depending on the individual camel’s size, health, and the terrain it is traveling on.

8. Do camels use their humps for balance?

No, camels do not use their humps for balance. Instead, they rely on their strong, sturdy legs and wide, padded feet to maintain their balance on uneven terrain.

9. Are there any other animals that have humps?

Yes, there are other animals that have humps. For example, bison and muskox have humps of muscle and fat that help them survive in cold environments. However, these humps are not the same as camels’ humps and serve a different purpose.

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