Ships of the Desert

ships of the desert

The body of the camel (or one-humped dromedary) is perfectly adapted to the Sahara desert climate. Its air filter is perched on a long neck, keeping the nasal membranes about two meters above the desert surface, which can easily reach temperatures in excess of 70°C. Camel hooves are so wide that one could almost think of them as special sand-tires and, with its fulltime four-leg drive, the dromedary can leave even the most up-to-date rally jeep in the dust on the steep slopes of the dunes. A glimpse at the condition of the hump permits a quick appraisal of the camel’s travel-readiness – almost like a gasoline gauge. If the hump is full and firm, the beast is 100% ready to roll. On the other hand, if it is sagging and limp, then it is high time for the food and water troughs. The camel hump consists of fat which is metabolically transformed into water when needed. One Kilogram of fat yields roughly one liter of water. The water balance is essential for life: the camel can recapture about 30% of the moisture in its exhaled breath thanks to specialized membranes and make it through two weeks without water if need be (humans last a maximum three days)? Then, however, the beast can swill up to 135 liters of water in a very short time. The largest portion of the water is stored in the red blood cells, which then expand to as much as 240 times their minimal volume? There are certain bacteria in the camels’ intestines capable of absorbing the nitrogen products that other mammals excrete through the urinary system. In this manner as well, the desert-ship can save water since it does not need to eliminate as much urine. While the two-legged members of a caravan are already quite close to the paradise of the huris with an increase of 3.5° C in their body to 9° without much problem, thus sweating less and saving coolant water. Their insensitive palates enable them to much on the thorny desert brush without injury. They allow themselves to be ridden, carry loads of up to 200 Kilogramms and supply milk, meat and wool. The Arabs explain the arrogant expression of the camel with the fact that this animal knows Allah’s hundredth name.

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