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Temporal range: early Miocene–late Miocene
Aepycamelus giraffinus and Procamelus grandis.jpg
Parts of skeleton at American Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Camelidae
Tribe: Camelini
Genus: Aepycamelus
MacDonald, 1956

Aepycamelus alexandrae (Davidson, 1923)
Aepycamelus bradyi MacDonald, 1956
Aepycamelus elrodi (Douglass, 1909)
Aepycamelus giraffinus (Matthew and Cook, 1909) (type)
Aepycamelus major (Leidy, 1886)
Aepycamelus priscus (Matthew and Cook, 1909)
Aepycamelus procerus (Matthew and Cook, 1909)
Aepycamelus robustus (Leidy, 1858)
Aepycamelus stocki (Henshaw, 1942)

Aepcamelus range.png
Geographic range of Aepycamelus

Aepycamelus, the long-necked camel,[citation needed] is an extinct genus of camelids that lived during the Miocene 20.6–4.9 million years ago, existing for about 15.7 million years.[1] Its name is derived from the Homeric Greek αἰπύς, "high and steep" and κάμηλος – "camel";[2][3] thus, "high camel"; alticamelus in Latin.

Aepycamelus spp. walked on their toes only. Unlike earlier species of camelids, they possessed cushioned pads like those of modern camels.[4]


Aepycamelus was formerly referred to the genus Alticamelus, which Matthew (1901) erected for "Procamelus" altus Marsh, 1894, a camel species described from a calcaneum found in Neogene deposits in Oregon, after he referred a complete skeleton of a tall camel from Colorado to that species. Matthew and Cook (1909) erected Alticamelus giraffinus for the Colorado specimen after recognizing the A. altus holotype as indeterminate.[5][6] MacDonald (1956) recognized Alticamelus as a nomen dubium and erected Aepycamelus for species previously assigned to Alticamelus.[7]


Restoration of A. elrodi by Robert Bruce Horsfall

Aepycamelus was a prairie dweller of North America (Colorado, etc.). It was a highly specialized animal. Its head was relatively small compared with the rest of its body, its neck was long, as a result of giraffe-like lengthening of the cervical vertebrae, and its legs were long and stilt-like, with the elbow and knee joints on the same level. The top of its head was about 3 m (9.8 ft) above the ground.[4]

Its strange body structure gives information on its mode of life and habits. Aepycamelus obviously inhabited dry grasslands with groups of trees. It is presumed to have moved about singly or in small groups, like today's giraffes, and like them, browsed high up in the trees. In this respect, it had no competitors. It survived a relatively long time, through most of the Miocene epoch, and died out prior to the start of the Pliocene, possibly due to climatic changes.[8]

Life reconstruction of Aepycamelus giraffinus

Fossil distribution[edit]

Its fossils are distributed widely, from Montana to Florida to California.


  1. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Aepycamelus, basic info
  2. ^ αἰπύς. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  3. ^ κάμηλος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  4. ^ a b Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-84028-152-1.
  5. ^ W. D. Matthew. 1901. Fossil mammals of the Tertiary of northeastern Colorado: American Museum collection of 1898. Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History 1(7):353-447
  6. ^ Matthew, W.D., and Cook, H.J., 1909, A Pliocene fauna from western Nebraska: American Museum of Natural History Bulletin, v. 26, art. 2, p. 361-414.
  7. ^ J. R. Macdonald. 1956. A new Clarendonian mammalian fauna from the Truckee Formation of western Nevada. Journal of Paleontology 30(1):186-202.
  8. ^ Flannery, T. (2001). The Eternal Frontier: an ecological history of North America and its peoples. New York: Grove Press. p. 111. ISBN 0-8021-3888-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Benes, Josef. Prehistoric Animals and Plants. Pg. 248. Prague: Artua, 1979.