Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.

Modern-day camels share features with the ancient Paracamelus, such as broad feet and fatty humps. (Markus Scholz / AFP / Getty Images)

Camels in Canada?

Scientists find fossils of ancient camels in the north Arctic

By Tyrus Cukavac | null null , null
<p>The fossils found at Ellesmere Island are the northernmost camel remains discovered in the Arctic. (Jim McMahon) </p>

The fossils found at Ellesmere Island are the northernmost camel remains discovered in the Arctic. (Jim McMahon)

Buffalo, bears, and beavers are just some of the animals known to roam the country of Canada. But millions of years ago, our neighbor to the north was also home to a race of giant camels!

We think of camels as living in hot, dry places like Egypt. But scientists discovered 30 pieces of bone from an ancient camel in the northernmost part of Canada, within the Arctic. This is the region at the far north of the world. The camels are believed to have lived 3.5 million years ago.

Natalia Rybczynski found the camel’s remains on Ellesmere Island. She is a paleontologist (a scientist who studies fossils). “It’s a surprise when you first hear it,” she tells The New York Times, “but the Arctic in the winter was like a desert [in ancient times].”


The ancient camels, called Paracamelus, were up to 29 percent larger than today’s camels. They grew to a shoulder height of nine feet.

Paracamelus had some similar features to modern camels. They had wide, flat feet and humps made of fat. These qualities helped Paracamelus survive harsh, cold winter conditions. Their wide feet helped them travel over unstable surfaces, like snow or sand. And the fatty humps helped them survive when food was scarce.

“The characteristics that allow [camels] to survive in the desert would also support animals who live in very cold environments,” Susan Lawler tells The Epoch Times. She is a biologist, or someone who studies living things. “This study gives us an excuse to think about how adaptations for one environment can lead to survival in another.”


These are not the first Paracamelus fossils found in North America. However, before this discovery, scientists did not realize how far north the animals had lived.

Millions of years ago, the Arctic was much warmer than it is today. Some scientists believe that as the climate changes, the Arctic may actually see a return to those ancient, warmer temperatures. “The camel is an ambassador for climate change,” says John Gosse, who co-authored the study on the Paracamelus fossil.

Researchers believe that Paracamelus eventually migrated into East Asia and Europe. From there they eventually evolved into the modern-day camels found in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Camels and Pigs

    Camels and Pigs

    by Erin Pembrey Swan


    •     Focuses on the traits and behaviors that make each animal order unique
    •     Breathtaking wildlife photos capture animals in their natural habitats
    •     "Words to Know" glossary clarifies key terms
    •     Index makes navigating subject matter easy


      10/15/02 Booklist
      "Top 10 Animal Series for Youth"


      $18.55 You save: 30%
      Library Binding | Grades 4-6
      Add To Cart
      Educators Only
    Camels and Pigs
    Grades 4-6 $18.55
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Baby Camels

    Baby Camels

    by Megan Borgert-Spaniol

    Three feet tall at birth, baby camels are nearly all legs! Learning to walk is a day’s hard work for a camel calf. With silly smiles and curly wool coats, these babies are an adorable venture in learning for young and early readers.

    $17.25 You save: 25%
    Library Binding | Grades K-1
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Baby Camels
    Grades K-1 $17.25
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy




Here's something interesting from