How Closely Related Are Horses and Camels?

The evolution of the two animals is not entirely understood, but there are some differences. The evolutionary relationship of horses and camels was recently highlighted in the fossil record of the Perissodactyl. Read on to learn more about these two evolutionary icons and how they differ from one another. Also learn more about their physical characteristics and the transmission of the MERS virus. We hope you enjoyed this article!

Perissodactyl fossils

The horses and camels are related by evolution. The horses, in fact, were the first perissodactyls. Cambaytherium, a pig-sized herbivorous animal that lived 54.5 million years ago, may not have been a perissodactyl at all, but it shares some traits with horses and rhinos. Its similarity to a sheep-like creature named Phenacodon also lends support to the idea that the two groups are related.

In the fossil record, camels and horses originated as a single species, or clade. This monophyly continued into the Oligocene, when camels and horses separated. After that, both clades diverged in their evolutionary processes, albeit at a different pace. The horses, meanwhile, evolved into a specialized version of horses called the Arabian horse, with a single large toe that developed into a hoof. Their resulting feet were designed to run quickly and efficiently.

Evolutionary relationship between horses and camels

The evolution of camels and horses is similar, but they have very different origins and ancestry. The camel family originated in North America and grew in size and diversity. Later, the animals migrated to other continents, including Asia and South America. After the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, the camel family expanded into Asia. This new range meant that camels were more closely related to horses than to elephants.

The Bactrian camel and the domestic Bactrian camel are closely related. However, there is debate regarding their status as domesticated species. Although the Bactrian camel has been domesticated, it is not clear when and where it occurred. Nevertheless, some researchers have suggested that domestication may have begun 6000 years ago in Central and Eastern Asia. There are a number of similarities between domestic Bactrian camels and horses, with the evolution of these animals comparable to that of horses.

Physical differences between horses and camels

Horses and camels have many physical differences. For one, horses have a large stomach and are capable of fermenting food. Camels do not. They suck, chew, and urinate, but they are not ruminants. Camel dung is similar to that of a cow. Horses do not fart, while camels do. Camel milk is used for butter and yogurt by nomadic tribes.

Camel blood has different properties compared to horse blood. The camel erythrocytes have a hematocrit that tends to increase with physical stress. These red blood cells serve an increased demand for oxygen in muscle cells and are characterized by an elliptical shape. The rigidity of the membrane and the high intracellular viscosity prevent camel erythrocytes from aligning themselves with vessel streamlines.

Camels’ long legs allow them to tolerate high temperatures, whereas horses would die at temperatures of 122degF. In addition, camels have special blood vessels in their brains that protect their brains from high temperatures. Camels can also store large amounts of food and water. Their digestive systems are different too, with camels spitting out their stomach contents and saliva. Camels also have long eyelashes and a third eyelid to protect their eyes during sand storms. And unlike horses, they can sleep sitting or standing.

Transmission of MERS virus between horses and camels

Transmission of MERS virus between horses and camelons is possible, but the exact mechanism remains unclear. Although dromedary camels are known reservoirs of the disease, camels are also a possible source of human infections. Because of their closely related genetics to humans, camels are considered an ideal reservoir for MERS-CoV, a viral infection caused by the disease.

Despite the high incidence of human cases of MERS, the source of the disease remains unknown. In some countries of the Middle East, camels are the main reservoir for infection, but there are no data on the prevalence of the disease in other livestock species. Nonetheless, the presence of the virus in camels may contribute to the spread of the disease. This study provides important information on the epidemiology of MERS and the risk factors of infection.

As with influenza viruses, MERS-CoV is an emerging threat in the expanding camel industry. It has the same pandemic-like characteristics as the human disease, which has caused similar fear and concern. To prevent the spread of this virus, surveillance and research should focus on varied etiology of respiratory diseases. Furthermore, the study also highlights the importance of understanding the ecology of MERS, which could contribute to the prevention of zoonotic infections and mitigate the threat of pandemics.