Camel Eyebrows (Why Are They So Thick?)

Just like many other animals, camels too have eyebrows. Camel’s eyebrows are thick lines of hair that grow above its eyes. They are made of intertwined strands of a protein called keratin.

Keratin is the same material human hair and nails are made from. In humans, eyebrows are used to prevent sweat from getting into our eyes and to communicate with others through facial expressions. 

Camels basically do not sweat; so what is the purpose of their eyebrows then? Why do camels have thick eyebrows?

why do camels have thick eyebrows

Why Do Camels Have Thick Eyebrows?

Camels have thick and bushy eyebrows to protect their eyes from the strong desert sun and to keep them clean and clear. Their eyebrows stick over the eyes to shade them and protect the animal’s vision from the intense brightness of the sun’s rays.

Together with their long eyelashes, camel’s bushy eyebrows prevent the sand and different debris from getting into the animal’s eye and damaging it. They also divert the airflow of the desert wind and prevent the eye from drying too much.

The sun emits different types of ultraviolet rays (UV). Two of them, UVA and UVB, are not fully absorbed or altered when they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, which means they pose a risk to the eyes. 

UVA rays are closer to visible light rays and can easily pass through the cornea of the eye and reach the lens. Short-term and long-term exposure can lead to different eye problems. Thankfully for camels, their eyebrows and eyelashes provide some protection. [1

On the Arabian Peninsula, where around 1.6 and 2 million camels live, the UVA rays are at a maximum in summer and a minimum in winter. The minimal values are in the early morning (06:00 local time) and reach their maximum values at around midday. [2]

Unfortunately, the total effect of eyebrows reducing those dangerous UV rays hasn’t yet been fully examined in the literature.

The Long Eyebrow Camels In China

In parts of China and Mongolia, there is a breed of Bactrian camels known as the Long Eyebrow camels of Alxa. They are a small part of the camel population in China as under 1000 of these currently exist. 

Compared to regular Bactrian camels, the thickness and length of body-side fluff of long eyebrow camels is higher; this includes hair follicles of their eyebrows. When it comes to fiber fineness and quality, the long eyebrow camels are similar to the other Bactrians. [3

Read More: Eyebrows Of Bears

Conclusion

And there you have it, a short article on camel eyebrows, and why their brows are so bushy and thick. 

Camel’s eyebrows are thick because camels live in areas with strong sunrays and with lots of sand flying around. Their eyebrows help protect the eye from the brightness by shading it and prevent desert particles from getting into the eyes.

Their thick double-layered eyelashes play a role too; together with eyebrows, they work as a barrier and prevent dust, insects, and other particles from entering the camel’s eyes.

Check our article on 5 facts about camel’s long eyelashes.


References

[1] Nevada Eye Physicians, www.nevadaeyephysicians.com

[2] Maghrabi, Abdullrahman, Abdulah Aldosari, and Mohammed Altilasi. “Characterization of ultraviolet radiation (UVA) in the desert climate of the Central Arabian Peninsula.” Theoretical and Applied Climatology 146.1 (2021): 631-644.

[3] Zhang, Qiang, WenBin Zhang, and Xue Su. “Investigation on breeding history and production performance of long eyebrow camels in Alxa.” Animal Husbandry and Feed Science (Inner Mongolia) 38.4 (2017): 60-62.

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