In the semi-forested grasslands of central and southern Africa a very unusual animal is found. When it was first brought to England in 1827 as a zoological specimen, it created excitement and great interest, and spectators were astonished that such an animal really existed.
Some evolutionary scientists today maintain it is the last of the prehistorics. Indeed, we, too, would be temporarily dazed if we saw two eyes peering over the top of an eighteen foot tree. Visualize a creature which is eighteen to twenty feet tall and weighs 2,000 to 3,000 pounds as it comes rocking through the low trees. It appears as a shadow for its body is peculiarly marked in plaids revealing an example of protective coloration not to be found elsewhere in nature.
Sometimes we hear the expression—“dumb animal.” Unique also in this characteristic, the camelopard is truly a dumb creature, for it never emits a vocal sound during its entire span of life. It was created without the physical means necessary to produce sound—it lacks a voice box and thus, is literally “dumb.”
In comparing it with the camel, we find that they have much in common, for they both have cloven hoofs, long legs and neck. They are also similar in their method of walking and running—a rocking gait due to the fact that both legs on the left side move simultaneously followed by joint movement of the right legs producing a very clumsy awkward movement. The Camelopard can also survive water shortage; in fact, it is believed that it can surpass the camel in endurance.
As you have by this time surmised, the first part of its name comes from the animal it most closely resembles, namely, the camel. Undoubtedly, the last part of its name “opard” is still an enigma to many readers. Previously, in this article we mentioned its unusual plaid coloration which consists of dark brown plaids on a fawn colored background. This proximates the color effect of the spotted leopard and hence its name “camel-leopard” or “camelopard.”
On the cover of the September 7, 1946, issue of the “Science News Letter” was a large photograph of one of these newly born animals, taken at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. Imagine a newborn weighing 100 lbs. and being over four feet tall. By its first birthday it reaches the height of 12 feet and thereafter averages about a foot a year until it is fully mature. Due to the inconvenience of its height several African railroads passed the following code: “Camelopards measuring more than thirteen feet in total height cannot be accepted for transport.” It might be of interest to note that its tongue reaches the length of eighteen inches. This is, indeed, advantageous when gathering food which consists of the foliage of the acacia and mimosa trees. A substitute for this is difficult to find in captivity: consequently, feeding them is quite expensive.
In classifying this peculiar specimen its appearance would suggest that it belongs to the same group as the camels, but “looks are deceiving,” for its structural characteristics reveal it to be more closely related to the moose and deer tribe than any other. Like the deer, they possess two short horns which are covered with a velvety skin. These horns, however, originate from skin tissue rather than from the bones of the skull as in the case of the deer.
In the 19th century, Lamarch and his associates used this animal as a classic example of the effect of environment upon an organism to prove their evolutionary theory. They reasoned that due to adverse weather conditions there was a lack of grass and lower vegetation, consequently, this animal was forced to stretch its neck in order to obtain food to maintain itself. This continued effort on the part of the creature gradually made it become longer. They claimed that this was transmitted to succeeding generations as an environmental acquisition. However, this theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics has been discredited, for example, the Orientals who bound their women’s feet for centuries in endeavoring to keep them small, failed in transmitting the characteristic of tiny feet. To the evolutionists a satisfactory explanation for this long neck is truly a “pain in the neck.” To the creationist this so-called “misfit” presents no problem for Genesis 1:24 states, “And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”
In spite of its advantage of keen vision and unusual height, it is, nevertheless, subject to attack by the lion and the leopard. As it is providentially able to survive the rigors of a dry climate, it instinctively withdraws from the more abundant pastures and seeks a safe retreat in the arid lands to bear and rear its young where its enemies are unable to exist.
This strange camelopard is none other than the giraffe!