Arab Warrior & Camel

Arab Warrior & Camel
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  • Franz Bergman Vienna Bronze Rider and Camel
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A very fine cold painted bronze study of a an Arab warrior seated upon a camel with a gun in his hand with excellent colour and detail, signed with the Bergman ‘B’ in an amphora

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Camel

A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as “humps” on its back. The three surviving species of camel are the dromedary, or one-humped camel (C. dromedarius), which inhabits the Middle East and the Horn of Africa; the Bactrian, or two-humped camel (C. bactrianus), which inhabits Central Asia; and the critically endagered wild Bactrian camel (C. ferus) that has limited populations in remote areas of northwest China and Mongolia. Both the dromedary and the Bactrian camels have been domesticated; they provide milk, meat, hair for textiles or goods such as felted pouches, and are working animals with tasks ranging from human transport to bearing loads.

The term camel is derived via Latin and Greek (camelus and κάμηλος kamēlos respectively) from Hebrew or Phoenician gāmāl.

“Camel” is also used more broadly to describe any of the seven camel-like mammals in the family Camelidae: the three true camels and the four New World camelids: the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña of South America.

Camels do not directly store water in their humps as was once commonly believed. The humps are actually reservoirs of fatty tissue: concentrating body fat in their humps minimizes the insulating effect fat would have if distributed over the rest of their bodies, helping camels survive in hot climates. When this tissue is metabolized, it yields more than one gram of water for every gram of fat processed. This fat metabolization, while releasing energy, causes water to evaporate from the lungs during respiration (as oxygen is required for the metabolic process): overall, there is a net decrease in water.

A camel’s thick coat is one of its many adaptations that aid it in desert-like conditions.
Somalia has the world’s largest population of camels.

Camels have a series of physiological adaptations that allow them to withstand long periods of time without any external source of water. Unlike other mammals, their red blood cells are oval rather than circular in shape. This facilitates the flow of red blood cells during dehydration and makes them better at withstanding high osmotic variation without rupturing when drinking large amounts of water: a 600 kg (1,300 lb) camel can drink 200 L (53 US gal) of water in three minutes.

Camels are able to withstand changes in body temperature and water consumption that would kill most other animals. Their temperature ranges from 34 °C (93 °F) at dawn and steadily increases to 40 °C (104 °F) by sunset, before they cool off at night again. Maintaining the brain temperature within certain limits is critical for animals; to assist this, camels have a rete mirabile, a complex of arteries and veins lying very close to each other which utilizes countercurrent blood flow to cool blood flowing to the brain. Camels rarely sweat, even when ambient temperatures reach 49 °C (120 °F). Any sweat that does occur evaporates at the skin level rather than at the surface of their coat; the heat of vaporization therefore comes from body heat rather than ambient heat. Camels can withstand losing 25% of their body weight to sweating, whereas most other mammals can withstand only about 12–14% dehydration before cardiac failure results from circulatory disturbance.

When the camel exhales, water vapor becomes trapped in their nostrils and is reabsorbed into the body as a means to conserve water. Camels eating green herbage can ingest sufficient moisture in milder conditions to maintain their bodies’ hydrated state without the need for drinking.

Domesticated camel calves lying in sternal recumbency, a position that aids heat loss

The camels’ thick coats insulate them from the intense heat radiated from desert sand; a shorn camel must sweat 50% more to avoid overheating. During the summer the coat becomes lighter in color, reflecting light as well as helping avoid sunburn. The camel’s long legs help by keeping its body farther from the ground, which can heat up to 70 °C (158 °F). Dromedaries have a pad of thick tissue over the sternum called the pedestal. When the animal lies down in a sternal recumbent position, the pedestal raises the body from the hot surface and allows cooling air to pass under the body.

Camels’ mouths have a thick leathery lining, allowing them to chew thorny desert plants. Long eyelashes and ear hairs, together with nostrils that can close, form a barrier against sand. If sand gets lodged in their eyes, they can dislodge it using their transparent third eyelid. The camels’ gait and widened feet help them move without sinking into the sand.

The kidneys and intestines of a camel are very efficient at reabsorbing water. Camel urine comes out as a thick syrup, and camel feces are so dry that they do not require drying when the Bedouins use them to fuel fires.

Camels’ immune system differs from those of other mammals. Normally, the Y-shaped antibody molecules consist of two heavy (or long) chains along the length of the Y, and two light (or short) chains at each tip of the Y. Camels, in addition to these, also have antibodies made of only two heavy chains, a trait that makes them smaller and more durable. These “heavy-chain-only” antibodies, discovered in 1993, are thought to have developed 50 million years ago, after camelids split from ruminants and pigs.

SKU: 4972

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