|A snow covered bactrian camel, February 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
Newly discovered mummified bones suggest today's desert-dwelling camels may have originally come from the Arctic.
Canadian scientists found camel fossils on Ellesemere Island, where they say evidence shows sometime between three and four million years ago there was boreal-type forest, and global temperatures were 2-3 C higher.
Camel fossils have previously been found in the Yukon, but this discovery is "most northerly evidence" of the animals, researchers from Canadian Museum of Nature and elsewhere said in the study published Tuesday in Nature Communications.
Testing of collagen deposits in the bones suggests these Pliocene-era ungulates were the most likely ancestors of modern camels, having crossed from Alaska to Russia via the Bering Isthmus and then dispersing to Eurasia.
Some of the traits seen in today's dromedary camels may be proof of this, such as their fatty humps, which would have been very important for survival in a harsh Arctic climate, the scientists say.