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The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
n
camelid Camelids are members of the biological family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social ...
, widely used as a
meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiratio ...
and
pack animal A pack animal, also known as a sumpter animal or beast of burden, is an individual or type of working animal A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one grou ...
by
Andean cultures
Andean cultures
since the
Pre-Columbian era In the history of the Americas, the pre-Columbian era spans from the original settlement of North and South America in the Upper Paleolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) also called the is the third and last subdivision o ...
. Llamas are social animals and live with others as a
herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wild Wild, wild or wild may refer to: Common meanings * Wild animal ''Wild Animal'' is the debut solo studio album by Canadian singer Vanity Vanity is the excessiv ...

herd
. Their
wool Wool is the textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitt ...
is soft and contains only a small amount of
lanolin Lanolin (from Latin 'wool', and 'oil'), also called wool yolk, wool wax, or wool grease, is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals. Lanolin used by humans comes from domestic sheep Domestic sheep#Breeds, breeds that are ...
. Llamas can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. When using a pack, they can carry about 25 to 30% of their body weight for 8 to 13 km (5–8
mile The mile, sometimes the international mile or statute mile to distinguish it from other miles, is a British imperial unit and US customary unit United States customary units (U.S. customary units) are a system of measurements commonly u ...
s). The name ''llama'' (in the past also spelled "lama" or "glama") was adopted by European settlers from
native Peruvians The indigenous peoples of Peru, or Native Peruvians, comprise a large number of ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other g ...
. The ancestors of llamas are thought to have originated from the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of flatland ''Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions'' is a satire, satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott, first publi ...
of
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
about 40 million years ago, and subsequently migrated to South America about three million years ago during the
Great American Interchange The Great American Biotic Interchange (commonly abbreviated as GABI), also known as the Great American Interchange or Great American Faunal Interchange, was an important late Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An er ...
. By the end of the last
ice age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents an ...
(10,000–12,000 years ago), camelids were extinct in North America. As of 2007, there were over seven million llamas and
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
s in South America and over 158,000 llamas and 100,000 alpacas, descended from progenitors imported late in the 20th century, in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
. In
Aymara Aymara may refer to: Languages and people * Aymaran languages Aymaran (also Jaqi or Aru) is one of the two dominant language families in the central Andes alongside Quechua languages, Quechuan. The family consists of Aymara language, Aymara, wi ...
mythology llamas are important beings. The Heavenly Llama is said to drink water from the ocean and urinates as it rains. According to Aymara
eschatology Eschatology is a part of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
, llamas will return to the water springs and
lagoon A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a narrow landform, such as reefs, barrier islands, barrier peninsulas, or isthmuses. Lagoons are commonly divided into ''coastal lagoons'' and ''atoll lagoons''. They ...

lagoon
s where they come from at the end of time.


Classification

Lamoids, or llamas (as they are more generally known as a group), consist of the
vicuña The vicuña (''Lama vicugna'') or vicuna (both , very rarely spelled ''vicugna'', its former genus name) is one of the two wild South American camelids, which live in the high alpine tundra, alpine areas of the Andes, the other being the guana ...

vicuña
(''Vicugna vicugna'', prev. ''Lama vicugna''),
guanaco The guanaco (''Lama guanicoe'') is a camelid Camelids are members of the biological family (biology), family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. The extant taxon, extant members of this group are: dromedary, d ...

guanaco
(''Lama guanicoe''), Suri
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
, and Huacaya alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'', prev. ''Lama guanicoe pacos''), and the domestic llama (''Lama glama''). Guanacos and vicuñas live in the wild, while llamas and alpacas exist only as domesticated animals. Although early writers compared llamas to
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...

sheep
, their similarity to the
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
was soon recognized. They were included in the genus ''Camelus'' along with
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
in the ''Systema Naturae'' (
1758 Events January–March * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the . There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in s). This day is known as since the day marks the beginning of the ...
) of
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble social class, class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nob ...

Carl Linnaeus
. They were, however, separated by
Georges Cuvier Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any orga ...

Georges Cuvier
in 1800 under the name of ''lama'' along with the
guanaco The guanaco (''Lama guanicoe'') is a camelid Camelids are members of the biological family (biology), family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. The extant taxon, extant members of this group are: dromedary, d ...

guanaco
.
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical ...

DNA
analysis has confirmed that the guanaco is the wild ancestor of the llama, while the vicuña is the wild ancestor of the alpaca; the latter two were placed in the genus ''Vicugna''. The genera ''Lama'' and ''Vicugna'' are, with the two species of true camels, the sole existing representatives of a very distinct section of the
Artiodactyla The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulate Ungulates ( ) are members of the diverse Ungulata which primarily consists of large mammals with . These include s such as s, es, and s; and s such as , s, s, s, , , and es. s such as , ...

Artiodactyla
or even-toed ungulates, called
Tylopoda Tylopoda (meaning "calloused foot") is a suborder In biological classification, the order ( la, wikt:ordo#Latin, ordo) is # a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes. The well-known rank ...
, or "bump-footed", from the peculiar bumps on the soles of their feet. The Tylopoda consist of a single family, the Camelidae, and shares the
order Order, ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is a quality that is characterized by a person’s interest in keeping their surroundings and themselves well organized, and is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness a ...
Artiodactyla with the
Suina Suina (also known as Suiformes) is a suborder of omnivorous, non-ruminant artiodactyl mammals that includes the pigs and Peccary, peccaries. A member of this clade is known as a suine. Suina includes the family Suidae, termed suids, known in Engl ...
(
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and ani ...

pig
s), the Tragulina (
chevrotain Chevrotains, or mouse-deer, are small even-toed ungulates that make up the family (biology), family Tragulidae, the only extant members of the infraorder Tragulina. The 10 Extant taxon, extant species are placed in three genera, but several ...
s), the
Pecora Pecora is an infraorder In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

Pecora
(
ruminant Ruminants (suborder Ruminantia) are large ungulate, hoofed herbivorous grazing or browsing mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, princi ...
s), and the
Whippomorpha Whippomorpha or Cetancodonta is a group of animals that contains all living cetaceans (whales, dolphins, etc.) and hippopotamuses, as well as their extinct relatives, I.E Entelodont, Entelodonts, Andrewsarchus. All Whippomorphs are descendants of ...

Whippomorpha
(
hippos Hippos ( grc, Ἵππος, , horse) is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or recorded history, historic or contemporary), ...

hippos
and
cetacea Cetaceans (from la, cetus Cetus () is a constellation, sometimes called 'the whale' in English. The Cetus (mythology), Cetus was a sea monster in Greek mythology which both Perseus and Heracles needed to slay. Cetus is in the region of the ...

cetacea
ns, which belong to Artiodactyla from a
cladistic Cladistics (; ) is an approach to Taxonomy (biology), biological classification in which organisms are categorized in groups ("clades") based on hypotheses of most recent common ancestry. The evidence for hypothesized relationships is typically ...

cladistic
, if not traditional, standpoint). The Tylopoda have more or less affinity to each of the sister
taxa In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...
, standing in some respects in a middle position between them, sharing some characteristics from each, but in others showing special modifications not found in any of the other taxa. The 19th-century discoveries of a vast and previously unexpected extinct
Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; informally Lower Tertiary or Early Tertiary) is a geologic period and system that spans 43 million years from the end of the Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period A geolo ...
fauna of North America, as interpreted by paleontologists
Joseph Leidy Joseph Mellick Leidy (September 9, 1823 – April 30, 1891) was an American paleontologist, parasitologist and anatomist. Leidy was professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania, later was a professor of natural history at Swarthmore Co ...

Joseph Leidy
,
Edward Drinker Cope Edward Drinker Cope (July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897) was an American zoologist, paleontology, paleontologist, comparative anatomy, comparative anatomist, herpetology, herpetologist, and ichthyology, ichthyologist. Born to a wealthy Quaker famil ...
, and
Othniel Charles Marsh Othniel Charles Marsh (October 29, 1831 – March 18, 1899) was an American professor of Paleontology Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes includin ...
, aided understanding of the early history of this family. Llamas were not always confined to
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
; abundant llama-like remains were found in
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
deposits in the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with simila ...

Rocky Mountains
and in
Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or ...

Central America
. Some of the
fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, inc ...

fossil
llamas were much larger than current forms. Some species remained in North America during the last ice ages. North American llamas are categorized as a single extinct genus, ''
Hemiauchenia ''Hemiauchenia'', is a genus of lamine camelids that evolved in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern s ...
''. Llama-like animals would have been a common sight 25,000 years ago, in modern-day
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
,
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
,
Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Missouri
, and
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
. The camelid lineage has a good fossil record. Camel-like animals have been traced from the thoroughly differentiated, modern species back through early
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of ...
forms. Their characteristics became more general, and they lost those that distinguished them as camelids; hence, they were classified as ancestral artiodactyls. No fossils of these earlier forms have been found in the
Old World The Old World consists of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% o ...
, indicating that North America was the original home of camelids, and that the ancestors of Old World
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
s crossed over via the
Bering Land Bridge Beringia is defined today as the land and maritime area bounded on the west by the Lena River The Lena (russian: link=no, Ле́на, ; evn, Елюенэ, ''Eljune''; sah, Өлүөнэ, ''Ölüöne''; bua, Зүлхэ, ''Zülkhe''; mn, З ...
from North America. The formation of the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Ka ...
three million years ago allowed camelids to spread to South America as part of the
Great American Interchange The Great American Biotic Interchange (commonly abbreviated as GABI), also known as the Great American Interchange or Great American Faunal Interchange, was an important late Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An er ...
, where they evolved further. Meanwhile, North American camelids died out at the end of the Pleistocene.


Characteristics

A full-grown llama can reach a height of at the top of the head, and can weigh between . At birth, a baby llama (called a '' cria'') can weigh between . Llamas typically live for 15 to 25 years, with some individuals surviving 30 years or more. The following characteristics apply especially to llamas.
Dentition Dentition pertains to the development of teeth and their arrangement in the mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their par ...

Dentition
of adults: incisors canines , premolars , molars ; total 32. In the upper jaw, a compressed, sharp, pointed laniariform
incisor Incisors (from Latin ''incidere'', "to cut") are the front teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcified Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in a Tissue (biology), body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone ...
near the hinder edge of the
premaxilla The premaxilla (or praemaxilla) is one of a pair of small cranial bones Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study ...
is followed in the male at least by a moderate-sized, pointed, curved true
canine Canine may refer to: Zoology * dog-like mammals (i.e. members of the canid subfamily Caninae) ** ''Canis'', a genus including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals ** Dog, the domestic dog * Canine tooth, in mammalian oral anatomy Other uses * Canin ...
in the anterior part of the maxilla. The isolated canine-like
premolar The premolars, also called premolar teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcified Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in a Tissue (biology), body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone, but calcium can be de ...
that follows in the camels is not present. The teeth of the molar series, which are in contact with each other, consist of two very small premolars (the first almost rudimentary) and three broad
molars The molars or molar teeth are large, flat teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcified Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in a Tissue (biology), body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone, but calcium ...
, constructed generally like those of ''Camelus''. In the lower jaw, the three incisors are long, spatulate, and procumbent; the outer ones are the smallest. Next to these is a curved, suberect canine, followed after an interval by an isolated minute and often deciduous simple conical premolar; then a contiguous series of one premolar and three molars, which differ from those of ''Camelus'' in having a small accessory column at the anterior outer edge. The skull generally resembles that of ''Camelus'', the larger brain-cavity and orbits, and less-developed cranial ridges being due to its smaller size. The nasal bones are shorter and broader, and are joined by the premaxilla.
Vertebrae In the vertebrate spinal column The vertebral column, also known as the backbone or spine, is part of the axial skeleton. The vertebral column is the defining characteristic of a vertebrate in which the notochord (a flexible rod of uniform c ...

Vertebrae
: * cervical 7, * dorsal 12, * lumbar 7, * sacral 4, * caudal 15 to 20. The ears are rather long and slightly curved inward, characteristically known as "banana" shaped. There is no dorsal hump. The feet are narrow, the toes being more separated than in the camels, each having a distinct plantar pad. The tail is short, and fibre is long, woolly and soft. In essential structural characteristics, as well as in general appearance and habits, all the animals of this genus very closely resemble each other, so whether they should be considered as belonging to one, two, or more species is a matter of controversy among
naturalists Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life. ...

naturalists
. The question is complicated by the circumstance of the great majority of individuals that have come under observation being either in a completely or partially domesticated state. Many are also descended from ancestors that have previously been domesticated, a state that tends to produce a certain amount of variation from the original type. The four forms commonly distinguished by the inhabitants of South America are recognized as distinct species, though with difficulties in defining their distinctive characteristics. These are: * the llama, ''Lama glama'' (
Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomi ...

Linnaeus
); * the
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
, ''Vicugna pacos'' (Linnaeus); * the
guanaco The guanaco (''Lama guanicoe'') is a camelid Camelids are members of the biological family (biology), family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. The extant taxon, extant members of this group are: dromedary, d ...

guanaco
(from the
Quechua Quechua may refer to: *Quechua people, several indigenous ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru *Quechuan languages, a Native South American language family spoken primarily in the Andes, derived from a common ancestral language **Sou ...
''huanaco''), ''Lama guanicoe'' ( Müller); and * the
vicuña The vicuña (''Lama vicugna'') or vicuna (both , very rarely spelled ''vicugna'', its former genus name) is one of the two wild South American camelids, which live in the high alpine tundra, alpine areas of the Andes, the other being the guana ...

vicuña
, ''Vicugna vicugna'' ( Molina) The llama and alpaca are only known in the domestic state, and are variable in size and of many colors, being often white, brown, or piebald. Some are grey or black. The guanaco and vicuña are wild. The guanaco is endangered; it has a nearly uniform light-brown color, passing into white below. The guanaco and vicuña certainly differ from each other: The vicuña is smaller, more slender in its proportions, and has a shorter head than the guanaco. The vicuña lives in
herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wild Wild, wild or wild may refer to: Common meanings * Wild animal ''Wild Animal'' is the debut solo studio album by Canadian singer Vanity Vanity is the excessiv ...

herd
s on the bleak and elevated parts of the mountain range bordering the region of perpetual snow, amidst rocks and precipices, occurring in various suitable localities throughout
Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = Seal (device), National seal , national_mott ...

Peru
, in the southern part of
Ecuador Ecuador ( ; ; Quechua Quechua may refer to: *Quechua people, several indigenous ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru *Quechuan languages, a Native South American language family spoken primarily in the Andes, derived from a ...

Ecuador
, and as far south as the middle of
Bolivia Bolivia ; ay, Wuliwya ; Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''Puliwya'' , officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The constitutional capital is Sucre, while the seat of g ...

Bolivia
. Its manners very much resemble those of the
chamois The chamois (''Rupicapra rupicapra'') is a species of goat-antelope The subfamily Caprinae is part of the ruminant Ruminants are herbivorous mammals of the suborder Ruminantia that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by En ...

chamois
of the European
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt ...

Alps
; it is as vigilant, wild, and timid. Vicuña fiber is extremely delicate and soft, and highly valued for the purposes of weaving, but the quantity that each animal produces is small. Alpacas are primarily descended from wild vicuña ancestors, while domesticated llamas are descended primarily from wild guanaco ancestors, although a considerable amount of hybridization between the two species has occurred. Differential characteristics between llamas and alpacas include the llama's larger size, longer head, and curved ears. Alpaca fiber is generally more expensive, but not always more valuable. Alpacas tend to have a more consistent color throughout the body. The most apparent visual difference between llamas and
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
s is that camels have a hump or humps and llamas do not. Llamas are not
ruminant Ruminants (suborder Ruminantia) are large ungulate, hoofed herbivorous grazing or browsing mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, princi ...
s, pseudo-ruminants, or modified ruminants. They do have a complex three-compartment stomach that allows them to digest lower quality, high cellulose foods. The stomach compartments allow for fermentation of tough food stuffs, followed by regurgitation and re-chewing.
Ruminant Ruminants (suborder Ruminantia) are large ungulate, hoofed herbivorous grazing or browsing mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, princi ...
s (cows, sheep, goats) have ''four'' compartments, whereas llamas have only three stomach compartments: the rumen, omasum, and abomasum. In addition, the llama (and other camelids) have an extremely long and complex large intestine (colon). The large intestine's role in digestion is to reabsorb water, vitamins and electrolytes from
food waste Food loss and waste is food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organism I ...

food waste
that is passing through it. The length of the llama's colon allows it to survive on much less water than other animals. This is a major advantage in arid climates where they live.


Reproduction

Llamas have an unusual reproductive cycle for a large animal. Female llamas are induced ovulators. Through the act of mating, the female releases an egg and is often fertilized on the first attempt. Female llamas do not go into estrus ("heat"). Like humans, llama males and females mature sexually at different rates. Females reach puberty at about 12 months old; males do not become sexually mature until around three years of age.


Mating

Llamas mate with in a kush (lying down) position, which is fairly unusual in a large animal. They mate for an extended time (20–45 minutes), also unusual in a large animal.


Gestation

The gestation period of a llama is 11.5 months (350 days). Dams (female llamas) do not lick off their babies, as they have an attached tongue that does not reach outside of the mouth more than . Rather, they will nuzzle and hum to their newborns.


Crias

A cria (from Spanish for "baby") is the name for a baby llama,
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
,
vicuña The vicuña (''Lama vicugna'') or vicuna (both , very rarely spelled ''vicugna'', its former genus name) is one of the two wild South American camelids, which live in the high alpine tundra, alpine areas of the Andes, the other being the guana ...

vicuña
, or
guanaco The guanaco (''Lama guanicoe'') is a camelid Camelids are members of the biological family (biology), family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. The extant taxon, extant members of this group are: dromedary, d ...

guanaco
. Crias are typically born with all the females of the herd gathering around, in an attempt to protect against the male llamas and potential predators. Llamas give birth standing. Birth is usually quick and problem-free, over in less than 30 minutes. Most births take place between 8 am and noon, during the warmer daylight hours. This may increase cria survival by reducing fatalities due to
hypothermia Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature Core or cores may refer to: Science and technology * Core (anatomy), everything except the appendages * Core (manufacturing), used in casting and molding * Core (optical fiber), the signal ...
during cold Andean nights. This birthing pattern is speculated to be a continuation of the birthing patterns observed in the wild. Crias are up and standing, walking and attempting to suckle within the first hour after birth. Crias are partially fed with llama milk that is lower in fat and salt and higher in phosphorus and calcium than cow or goat milk. A female llama will only produce about of milk at a time when she gives milk, so the cria must suckle frequently to receive the nutrients it requires.


Breeding methods

In harem mating, the male is left with females most of the year. For field mating, a female is turned out into a field with a male llama and left there for some period of time. This is the easiest method in terms of labor, but the least useful in terms of prediction of a likely birth date. An ultrasound test can be performed, and together with the exposure dates, a better idea of when the cria is expected can be determined. Hand mating is the most efficient method, but requires the most work on the part of the human involved. A male and female llama are put into the same pen and mating is monitored. They are then separated and re-mated every other day until one or the other refuses the mating. Usually, one can get in two matings using this method, though some stud males routinely refuse to mate a female more than once. The separation presumably helps to keep the sperm count high for each mating and also helps to keep the condition of the female llama's reproductive tract more sound. If the mating is not successful within two to three weeks, the female is mated again.


Nutrition

Options for feeding llamas are quite wide; a wide variety of commercial and farm-based feeds are available. The major determining factors include feed cost, availability, nutrient balance and energy density required. Young, actively growing llamas require a greater concentration of nutrients than mature animals because of their smaller digestive tract capacities.


Behavior

Llamas that are well-socialized and trained to halter and lead after
weaning Weaning is the process of gradually introducing an infant An infant (from the Latin word ''infans'', meaning 'unable to speak' or 'speechless') is the more formal or specialised synonym for the common term ''baby'', meaning the very y ...
and are very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. However, llamas that are bottle-fed or over-socialized and over-handled as youth will become extremely difficult to handle when mature, when they will begin to treat humans as they treat each other, which is characterized by bouts of spitting, kicking and neck wrestling. Llamas have started showing up in nursing homes and hospitals as certified therapy animals. Rojo the Llama, located in the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common co ...
was certified in 2008. The
Mayo Clinic The Mayo Clinic () is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social be ...

Mayo Clinic
says animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. This type of therapy is growing in popularity, and there are several organizations throughout the United States that participate. When correctly reared, llamas spitting at a human is a rare thing. Llamas are very social herd animals, however, and do sometimes spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd. A llama's social rank in a herd is never static. They can always move up or down in the social ladder by picking small fights. This is usually done between males to see which will become dominant. Their fights are visually dramatic, with spitting, ramming each other with their chests, neck wrestling and kicking, mainly to knock the other off balance. The females are usually only seen spitting as a means of controlling other herd members. One may determine how agitated the llama is by the materials in the spit. The more irritated the llama is, the further back into each of the three stomach compartments it will try to draw materials from for its spit. While the social structure might always be changing, they live as a family and they do take care of each other. If one notices a strange noise or feels threatened, an alarm call - a loud, shrill sound which rhythmically rises and falls - is sent out and all others become alert. They will often hum to each other as a form of communication. The sound of the llama making groaning noises or going "mwa" (/mwaʰ/) is often a sign of fear or anger. Unhappy or agitated llamas will lay their ears back, while ears being perked upwards is a sign of happiness or curiosity. An "orgle" is the mating sound of a llama or alpaca, made by the sexually aroused male. The sound is reminiscent of gargling, but with a more forceful, buzzing edge. Males begin the sound when they become aroused and continue throughout the act of procreation – from 15 minutes to more than an hour.


Guard behavior

Using llamas as livestock guards in North America began in the early 1980s, and some sheep producers have used llamas successfully since then. Some would even use them to guard their smaller cousins, the alpaca.Walker, Cameron.
Guard Llamas Keep Sheep Safe From Coyotes.
''
National Geographic ''National Geographic'' (formerly the ''National Geographic Magazine'', sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is an American monthly magazine published by the National Geographic Society The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Was ...
'', 10 June 2003.
They are used most commonly in the western regions of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, where larger predators, such as coyotes and feral dogs, are prevalent. Typically, a single gelding (castrated male) is used. Research suggests the use of multiple guard llamas is not as effective as one. Multiple males tend to bond with one another, rather than with the livestock, and may ignore the flock. A gelded male of two years of age bonds closely with its new charges and is instinctively very effective in preventing predation. Some llamas appear to bond more quickly to sheep or goats if they are introduced just prior to
lambing Domestic sheep reproduce Sexual reproduction, sexually much like other mammals, and their reproductive strategy is furthermore very similar to other domestic herd animals. A flock of sheep is generally mated by a single ram, which has either been ...
. Many sheep and goat producers indicate a special bond quickly develops between lambs and their guard llama and the llama is particularly protective of the lambs. Using llamas as guards has reduced the losses to predators for many producers. The value of the livestock saved each year more than exceeds the purchase cost and annual maintenance of a llama. Although not every llama is suited to the job, most are a viable, nonlethal alternative for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care.


Fiber

Llamas have a fine undercoat, which can be used for handicrafts and garments. The coarser outer guard hair is used for rugs, wall-hangings and lead ropes. The fiber comes in many different colors ranging from white or grey to reddish-brown, brown, dark brown and black.


Medical uses

Doctors and researches have determined that llamas possess antibodies that are well suited to treat certain diseases. Scientists have been studying the way llamas might contribute to the fight against coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS-CoV-2 (which causes
COVID-19 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease A contagious disease is a disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization o ...
).


History of domestication


Pre-Incan cultures

Scholar Alex Chepstow-Lusty has argued that the switch from a
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
lifestyle to widespread
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
was only possible because of the use of llama as
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
. The Moche people frequently placed llamas and llama parts in the burials of important people, as offerings or provisions for the afterlife. The Moche of
pre-Columbian In the history of the Americas, the pre-Columbian era spans from the original settlement of North and South America in the Upper Paleolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) also called the is the third and last subdivision o ...
Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = Seal (device), National seal , national_mott ...

Peru
depicted llamas quite realistically in their ceramics.


Inca Empire

In the
Inca Empire The Inca Empire, also known as Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, and at the time known as the Realm of the Four Parts,,  "four parts together" was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military c ...

Inca Empire
, llamas were the only beasts of burden, and many of the people dominated by the Inca had long traditions of llama herding. For the Inca nobility, the llama was of symbolic significance, and llama figures were often buried with the dead. In South America, llamas are still used as beasts of burden, as well as for the production of
fiber Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including ...

fiber
and
meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiratio ...

meat
. The
Inca The Inca Empire, also Quechuan and Aymaran spelling shift, known as Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, and at the time known as the Realm of the Four Parts,,  "four parts together" was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The admin ...

Inca
deity Urcuchillay was depicted in the form of a multicolored llama.
Carl Troll Carl Troll (24 December 1899 in Gabersee – 21 July 1975 in Bonn), was a Germany, German geographer, brother of botanist Wilhelm Troll. From 1919 until 1922 Troll studied biology, chemistry, geology, geography and physics at the University of Muni ...
has argued that the large numbers of llamas found in the southern Peruvian highlands were an important factor in the rise of the
Inca Empire The Inca Empire, also known as Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, and at the time known as the Realm of the Four Parts,,  "four parts together" was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military c ...

Inca Empire
. It is worth considering the maximum extent of the Inca Empire roughly coincided with the greatest distribution of
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
s and llamas in Pre-Hispanic America. The link between the Andean
biome A biome is a collection of plants Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respi ...
s of puna and , llama
pastoralism Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals known as livestock are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who moved around with their herds. The species invol ...
and the Inca state is a matter of research.


Spanish Empire

One of the main uses for llamas at the time of the
Spanish conquest The Spanish Empire ( es, Imperio Español; la, Imperium Hispanicum), historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, Monarquía Hispánica) and as the Catholic Monarchy ( es, Monarquía Católica), was a colonial empire A colonial empire is a ...
was to bring down ore from the mines in the mountains. Gregory de Bolivar estimated that in his day, as many as 300,000 were employed in the
transport Transport (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and ...

transport
of produce from the
Potosí Potosí, known as Villa Imperial de Potosí in the colonial period, is the capital city and a municipality of the Department of Potosí in Bolivia Bolivia ; ay, Wuliwya ; Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''Puliwya'' , officially the Plur ...

Potosí
mines alone, but since the introduction of
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
s,
mule A mule is the of a male (jack) and a female (). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of s. Of the two between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a , which is the offspring of a female donkey () a ...

mule
s, and
donkey The donkey or ass is a domestic animal This page gives a list of domestic animals, also including a list of domestication of animals, animals which are or may be currently undergoing the process of domestication and animals that have an exten ...
s, the importance of the llama as a beast of burden has greatly diminished. According to
Juan Ignacio Molina Fr. Juan Ignacio Molina (; (June 24, 1740 – September 12, 1829) was a Chilean-Spanish Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that ...
, the Dutch captain
Joris van Spilbergen Joris van Spilbergen (1568 in Antwerp – January 31, 1620 in Bergen op Zoom) was a Netherlands, Dutch naval officer. Joris van Spilbergen was born in Antwerp in 1568. His first major expedition was in 1596, when he sailed to Africa. He then ...
observed the use of hueques (possibly a llama type) by native
Mapuche The Mapuche ( (Spanish: )) are a group of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous inhabitants of present-day south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of present-day Patagonia. The collective term refers to a wide-ra ...

Mapuche
s of
Mocha Island Mocha Island ( es, link=no, Isla Mocha ) is a small Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively smal ...
as in 1614. In Chile hueque populations declined towards extinction in the 16th and 17th century being replaced by European livestock. The causes of its extinction are not clear but it is known that the introduction of sheep caused some competition among both domestic species. Anecdotal evidence of the mid-17th century show that both species coexisted but suggests that there were many more sheep than hueques. The decline of hueques reached a point in the late 18th century when only the Mapuche from Mariquina and Huequén next to
Angol Angol is a commune An intentional community is a voluntary residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of group cohesiveness, social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a co ...
raised the animal.


United States

Llamas were first imported into the US in the late 1800s as zoo exhibits. Restrictions on importation of livestock from South America due to hoof and mouth disease, combined with lack of commercial interest, resulted in the number of llamas staying low until the late 20th century. In the 1970s, interest in llamas as livestock began to grow, and the number of llamas increased as farmers bred and produced an increasing number of animals. Both the price and number of llamas in the US climbed rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s. With little market for llama fiber or meat in the US, and the value of guard llamas limited, the primary value in llamas was in breeding more animals, a classic sign of a
speculative bubble An economic bubble is a situation in which asset prices are much higher than the underlying fundamentals can reasonably justify. Bubbles are sometimes caused by unlikely and overly optimistic projections about the future. It could also be descri ...
in agriculture. By 2002, there were almost 145,000 llamas in the US according to the
US Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, ...
, and animals sold for as much as $220,000. However, the lack of any end market for the animals resulted in a crash in both llama prices and the number of llamas; the
Great Recession The Great Recession was a period of marked general decline (recession In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution ( ...
further dried up investment capital, and the number of llamas in the US began to decline as fewer animals were bred and older animals died of old age. By 2017, the number of llamas in the US had dropped below 40,000. A similar speculative bubble was experienced with the closely related
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria ...

alpaca
, which burst shortly after the llama bubble.


Culture

Being an important animal and long standing cultural icon in South America, Llamas gained in recent history cultural prominence in
Western culture Western culture, also known as Western civilization, Occidental culture, or Western society, is the heritage Heritage may refer to: History and society * In history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired ...
. For example
The Sims ''The Sims'' is a series of life simulation video games developed by Maxis Maxis is an American video game developer and a Division (business), division of Electronic Arts (EA). The studio was founded in 1987 by Will Wright (game designer), ...
game series has extensively used Llamas as game elements. Also the programming language
Perl Perl is a family of two high-level High-level and low-level, as technical terms, are used to classify, describe and point to specific Objective (goal), goals of a systematic operation; and are applied in a wide range of contexts, such as, for ...
with its so-called Llama book has been associated with Llamas.


See also

* Alpaca * Cama (animal), Cama, a hybrid between a llama and a
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
* Grass Mud Horse, a parody originating from Mainland China in 2009 that features the alpaca and llama * Guanaco * Guard llama, llamas used as livestock guardians * Lamoid * Llama hiking * ''The Emperor's New Groove,'' a 2000 animated Disney film where an
Inca The Inca Empire, also Quechuan and Aymaran spelling shift, known as Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, and at the time known as the Realm of the Four Parts,,  "four parts together" was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The admin ...

Inca
n emperor gets turned into a llama.


Notes


External links

* *
Llamas Close Up
– slideshow by ''Life (magazine), Life magazine'' * {{Authority control Llamas, Camelids Animal hair products Livestock Mammals of the Andes Mammals of Bolivia Mammals of Ecuador Mammals of Peru Pack animals Mammals described in 1758 Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus