Famous for their unique looks that include large humps on their backs, these animals have been a part of a persistent myth in recent times stating that camels with three humps exist.
In this article, we will explore the anatomy of camels and the two types of camels, and then delve into the myth of the three-hump camel.
Table of Contents
Can camels have 3 humps?
No, camels can’t have 3 humps. Dromedary camels have 1 hump, domesticated Bactrian camels have 2 humps, and wild Bactrian camels also have 2 humps.
There have been no scientifically documented examples of camels with 3 humps!
Camels do not store water in their humps, but fat, and a lot of it. Up to 80 pounds can be placed in one hump and allow camels to survive when there’s no food available. They just break down fat molecules into energy and water.
The three-humped camel confusion was made in April 2019 when an article appeared on Kawa-news. The text described how a three-humped wild camel colony was discovered in the Rub al-Khali desert in Oman.
The camelid that was discovered was named Tribocus Camelus and was labeled as a true camel evolutionary enigma.
They interviewed a researcher at the Faculty of Science at King Saud University and the head of the Department of Archaeology at Sultan Qaboos University about this discovery.
Both of them supported different theories on why this three-humped camel appeared.
One was hypothesizing that the additional hump came as a camel’s response to climate changes and the rise of temperature in the region. And the third hump would serve as additional storage for water and nutrients.
The other went even further and said that prehistoric wall paintings at Tassili n’Ajjer in Arabian Peninsula were proof that even the first humans were using three-humped camels several millennia ago.
They even posted a photo of the animal:
This, of course, made people talk about this phenomenon:
To check if the legendary three-hump camelid is real, we checked the photo first.
Using TinEye, a software that discovers where images appear online, we found the original photo.
It was one from Shutterstock where a one-humped dromedary camel was edited to look like it had 3 humps. Strike one.
Next, we checked the names of the people from the interview. None of them could be found on the official websites of the institutions mentioned. Strike two.
We also checked the name of their unique camel, Tribocus Camelus.
Tribus is a Latin word for wood – not a name you’d expect a camel species to have. Strike three.
Lastly, the date of the article seemed suspicious as well, being published on the 1st of April. 🙂
From what we learned, it’s safe to say that the myth on a camel with three humps is busted.
There are no three-humped camels that exist, only one and two-humped ones.
Fun fact: In Kazakhstan, there have been records of camel hybrids with a single hump, hybrids with a single hump and two crests, hybrids with either both humps being small or one being large and one being small. There have never been hybrids of a camel that had three humps.
What Is A Camel With 3 Humps Called?
There was a hilarious three-humped camel joke in the movie Zootopia from 2016, that went like this:
- What Do You Call a Three-Humped Camel?
As funny as Kawa-news’ April Fool’s joke.
Can Camels Have 4 Humps?
Now that we have concluded that there are no three-humped camels, let’s see if a four-humped camel exists.
And this is where it gets a bit “interesting”.
According to Guinness World Records, a camel that had four humps actually existed. Dr. Bernhard Grzimek, a biologist from Germany, documented a case of a camel with four fully-formed humps back in the 1970s.
In the town of Al Hudayah in Yemen, that four-humped Dromedary camel was sold for about 10,000$.
This is an official record for the camel with the most humps, as stated on their website.
We weren’t able to find more to find additional information or photos about this animal.
Perhaps you have a 1970’s Guinness Book of Records collecting dust on your shelf and can confirm this for us?
Not all things are always are they are being presented.
Sometimes, a small joke can lead to people believing different pieces of information.
Like the one on the existence of a three-humped camel, which was an April’s Fool Day joke.
And on the other hand, sometimes as incredible as things might seem, they turn out to be true.
Like the one about the existence of a four-humped camel that was confirmed in the 1970s.
Could have such a camel evolved for real, or could it be some old archeological April’s Fool Day joke?
Further reading: Camel with no humps?