What is stored in a camel’s hump?


Camels are fascinating creatures that have adapted to survive in harsh desert environments. One of the most intriguing features of a camel is its hump, or in the case of the two-humped Bactrian camel, humps. These humps play a vital role in the camel’s ability to survive in extreme conditions. In this article, we will explore in detail what is stored in a camel’s hump and how it helps them endure long periods without food or water.

The Anatomy of a Camel’s Hump

Before we delve into what is stored in a camel’s hump, let’s first understand its structure. A camel’s hump is made up of a fatty tissue known as adipose tissue. This tissue is unique to camels and serves as a reservoir for energy-rich fats. The hump’s size and shape can vary depending on the health, age, and species of the camel.

Adipose Tissue: The Source of Energy

The primary purpose of a camel’s hump is to store energy in the form of fat. Adipose tissue is an excellent energy storage mechanism because it contains triglycerides, which are broken down into fatty acids when needed. These fatty acids are then metabolized, providing the camel with a continuous source of energy, even when food is scarce.

It is important to note that contrary to popular belief, a camel’s hump does not store water. The misconception about water storage in humps might have originated from the fact that camels can survive long periods without drinking water. However, their ability to withstand dehydration is not due to the storage of water in the hump. Instead, it is their remarkable water conservation mechanisms and physiological adaptations that allow them to thrive in arid environments.

Metabolic Process of a Camel’s Hump

The metabolic process of a camel’s hump is fascinating. When a camel consumes food, the digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and proteins, converting them into energy. Excess energy from these sources is then transported to the liver, where it is converted into lipids, or fats.

These lipids are then stored in the adipose tissue of the hump. When the camel requires energy, such as during periods of fasting or physical exertion, the stored lipids in the hump are broken down into fatty acids. These fatty acids are released into the bloodstream and transported to the muscles, where they are utilized as a source of fuel.

Adaptations for Survival

Camels have evolved several remarkable adaptations to enhance their survival in desert environments. These adaptations allow them to efficiently store and utilize energy from their humps.

Increased Blood Flow

A camel’s hump is supplied with an extensive network of blood vessels. This network ensures efficient transportation of fatty acids from the hump to the muscles. The increased blood flow also aids in regulating body temperature in extreme heat.


The adipose tissue in a camel’s hump acts as an insulator, preventing heat from reaching the rest of the body. This insulation helps to keep the camel cool during scorching desert temperatures.

Water Conservation

As mentioned earlier, camels have developed remarkable water conservation mechanisms. Their kidneys are highly efficient at retaining water, and their urine is concentrated to minimize water loss. Additionally, camels have the ability to tolerate significant dehydration without experiencing detrimental effects.

Camel Hump Variations

While all camels possess humps, there are variations in the number and shape of these humps depending on the species. The two main species of camels are the Dromedary camel, with a single hump, and the Bactrian camel, with two humps.

Dromedary Camel

The Dromedary camel, also known as the Arabian camel, is the most common camel species. It is characterized by a single hump, which is typically large and elongated. The hump of a Dromedary camel can store up to 80 pounds (36 kilograms) of fat, providing a significant energy reserve.

Bactrian Camel

The Bactrian camel, native to Central Asia, is known for its distinctive two humps. These humps are smaller and rounder compared to those of the Dromedary camel. The Bactrian camel’s humps can store up to 130 pounds (59 kilograms) of fat, enabling it to survive in extremely cold desert regions.


In conclusion, a camel’s hump is a specialized adaptation that allows it to thrive in arid desert environments. Contrary to popular belief, the hump does not store water but rather serves as a reservoir for energy-rich fats. The adipose tissue in the hump contains triglycerides, which are broken down into fatty acids to provide a continuous source of energy to the camel when food is scarce. Camels have evolved various adaptations to efficiently utilize the energy stored in their humps, including increased blood flow, insulation, and remarkable water conservation mechanisms. The size and shape of a camel’s hump can vary depending on the species, with Dromedary camels having a single hump and Bactrian camels having two humps. These humps play a crucial role in the survival and endurance of camels in some of the harshest environments on Earth.

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