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Camel fossil found in Canada's High Arctic region

A camel fossil from 3.4 million years ago was found in Canada's High Arctic region, scientists reported.

Camel Canada Climate ChangeEnlarge
Though our association with camels is often linked to things like Lawrence of Arabia, in truth, the animal developed in North America. (John Moore/Getty Images)

It seems that the popular nickname for the camel, "ship of the desert" may be a misnomer. New evidence has found that the resilient, humped creatures actually survived and evolved in Canada's High Arctic.

Paleontologist Natalia Rybczynski of the Candian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, who found a bone fragment during an expedition to Ellesmere Island in 2006, announced in a new report that the camel bone is evidence that the camel roamed the area 3.4 million years ago.

Though scientists had long known that the camel developed in North America, the new fossil showed that the camels had actually habited areas much further north than they'd realized.

Though Rybcynski explained that the Arctic during that time was a boreal forest and considerably warmer, it still had some severe winters that lasted up to six months, the Globe and Mail reported.

The news isn't just a surprising bit of trivia, it also gives the camel the distinction of being an ambassador for climate change.

John Gosse, the coauthor of the report on the Canadian camel, which was published on Tuesday, explained that the camel were remarkably versatile and adaptable, the National Post reported.

The same features that allowed the camel to survive in the severe winter conditions-- cloven feet, a fat-storing hump-- was what allowed it to adapt and persevere in the desert that it eventually moved to.

“It’s a really nice example of pre-adaptability,” Dr. Rybczynski said, the New York Times reported.