Is A Camel A Pachyderm?

No, camels are not pachyderms. Camels belong to an order of Artiodactyla, while pachyderms belong to the now obsolete order of Pachydermata. Pachyderms are large, nonruminant hoofed mammals that have very thick skin. Camels are not part of their order.

Their name comes from the Greek, and if you break it into two parts, pachys and derma, you will understand why they are called thick-skinned. Pachys means thick and derma means skin.

Scientists from the early 19th century believed that thick-skinned animals all belonged to the same family and categorized them together. They defined Pachydermata as “animals with hoofs, nonruminants”.

Today, the term “pachyderm” remains commonly used to describe elephants, rhinoceroses, tapirs, and hippopotamuses. It does not include camels.

are camels pachyderms

Major Differences Between A Camel And A Pachyderm

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hooves or nails resembling hooves and usually thick skin is what make a pachyderm. For example, elephants have skin around 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.

Similarly, camels do not have hooves but nails on top of their feet that only resemble a hoof. They also have thick skin (camel skin is thickest on the hump 0.86 inches (2.2 cm) and neck 0.78 inches (2 cm) region). [1

Even when it comes to fetal development, scientists of the mid 19th century noted that the dromedary camel placenta is diffuse, and not cotyledonary, as in other ruminants. They concluded that camels are more related to pachyderms than to ruminants. [2

Judging by these similarities, it is understandable to think that a camel is a pachyderm. 

However, pachyderms are considered to have hoofs with more than two toes; camels have only 2 toes.

Even notable zoologists like Charles Darwin described pachyderms as a grade of hoofed mammals except for other ungulates (camels are ungulates – members of the diverse clade Ungulata).

Originally, Pachydermata included the three families of mammals: Proboscidiana, Pachydermata Ordinaria, and Solipedes. 

Today, they are divided into other families like Proboscidea (elephants), the Perissodactyla (horses, tapirs, rhinos), the Suina (pigs), the Hippopotamidae (hippo), and the Hyracoidea (hyraxes).

Camels belong to a completely different family to those of Pachydermata; camels are members of the Camelidae family.

Read More: Do Pigs Give Birth Or Do They Lay Eggs?

TL;DR – Is A Camel A Pachyderm?

Camels are not pachyderms and do not belong to the obsolete order of Pachydermata. Camels are part of the order of Artiodactyla and members of the Camelidae family. 

We hope you enjoyed our short article examining the question “is a camel a pachyderm”.


References

[1] Wiam, I. M., et al. “Morphometric study of the skin in different anatomical regions of the camel (Camelus dromedarius).” Proceedings of the International Camel Conference, Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia, 17-20 February 2013. Camel Publishing House, 2015.

[2] Eisa, E. I., and D. I. Osman. “Morphology of the foetal membranes and placenta of the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius).” (2010): 37.

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