OTTAWA, March 5 (UPI) -- Paleontologists say they've uncovered evidence of an extinct giant camel that lived in Canada's high arctic regions, the most northerly record of early camels.
A research team led by the Canadian Museum of Nature said the discovery is based on 30 fossil fragments of a leg bone found on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut.
The fossils are about 3.5 million years old, dating from the mid-Pliocene Epoch when the arctic region was a forest environment during a global warming phase on the planet, a museum release said Tuesday.
"This is an important discovery because it provides the first evidence of camels living in the High Arctic region," vertebrate paleontologist Natalia Rybczynski said. "It extends the previous range of camels in North America northward by about 1,200 km [750 miles], and suggests that the lineage that gave rise to modern camels may have been originally adapted to living in an Arctic forest environment."
"So perhaps some specializations seen in modern camels, such as their wide flat feet, large eyes and humps for fat may be adaptations derived from living in a polar environment," she said.