7 Things you really ought to know about Camel Anatomy

We're tired of loving camels for their minds. Isn't it time we started appreciating their bodies?

by Jennifer Drapkin

1. The Hump: Contrary to popular belief, the hump does not store water. Instead, it's filled with fat, like a gravity-defying beer belly, which allows the camel to go for a month without food.

If the hump becomes depleted, it will shrink, flop over, and hang at the camel's side.

2. The Nipples: Camel milk, the Bedouin beverage of choice, is more nutritious than cow milk, with more potassium, more iron, and three times as much vitamin C. In fact, Camel milk will soon become available in grocery stores across Europe. In the meantime, candy makers from Vienna are developing a chocolate camel milk for the kids.

3. The Nostrils:
Camels can open and close their muscular nostrils at will, which prevents them from inhaling sand in the event of a sandstorm.

4. The Body Heat:
When the outside temperature is higher than body temperature, most mammals sweat to cool off. But not the camel. To avoid sweating, its body temperature will rise up to 11 degrees, which is the primary way that camels conserve water in the desert. In fact, camels often huddle together to stay cool because their body temperature is often less than the outside air.


5. The Excretions:
Camels also conserve water by producing concentrated urine and dry dung.

6. The Feet:
When the thick, leathery pads of a camel's foot hit the ground, they spread wide, preventing the camel from sinking into the sand.

7. Those Long Legs:
When a camel walks, it moves both legs on one side and the both legs on the other, rocking side-to-side. This is why camels are nicknamed "The ships of the desert." Camel legs are incredibly strong, which allows them to carry up to 1000 pounds. They also can walk 100 miles per day and sprint at 12 miles per hour.

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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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