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Inside Nature’s Giants… series 3! Camel!!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Composite image by Mike P. Taylor, showing camel neck skeleton in (at top) a non-extreme pose easily adopted in the live animal, (at middle) the pose frequently depicted in museum mounts, and (at bottom) the pose that results if you reconstruct 'neutral pose'.

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the Windfall Films TV series Inside Nature’s Giants (broadcast on Channel 4 here in the UK, and known as Raw Anatomy in the US). It might actually be the only thing on TV worth watching. What’s especially noteworthy is that a brilliant, award-winning series devoted to the anatomy, biology and evolution of animals has been loved by critics and the general TV-watching audience; consequently ING is about to start its third series. This demonstrates phenomenal success, and my congrats again to everyone involved. I’ve been blogging about ING since it first screened (see links below) and have even managed to meet some of the key personnel and act as an adviser for some of the episodes. An ING special on sperm whales recently hit our screens, and I’m aiming to blog about it some time soon.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing now is that series 3 starts this Tuesday 30th August (err, that’ll be today), with episode 1 being devoted to dromedary camels. Camels are weird weird weird – there’s that incredibly flexible neck, the distensible pouch on the palate, those digitigrade (rather than unguligrade) feet… all this and so much more before you even get to the hump. Anyway, this is just meant to be a brief heads-up. I look forward to watching and hope that you’ll tune in too, if possible. Watch a trailer here.


Thanks to Tom Mustill.

For previous Tet Zoo articles on ING, see…

Darren Naish About the Author: Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. DMA12 6:43 am 08/30/2011

    Never knew their necks were so flexible. Unfortunately, I will not be able to watch it, though I look forward to the cassowary episode.

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  2. 2. Ranjit Suresh 4:34 pm 08/30/2011

    I think it’s interesting that they’re looking at a dromedary from Australia. The fact that camels have done so well in the outback is just testament to the fact that the ecosystem there can still support large, desert-adapted herbivores. It’s not proof of anything, but its suggestive that climate alone does not explain the extinction of Australia’s megafauna, species of which already had adapted to the increased aridification of the continent.

    Also, it’s great that you keep hammering away at the neutral pose hypothesis for sauropods. Perhaps future paleontologists will reconstruct camels as Eeyore-like creatures, scarcely capable of lifting their head beyond their shoulders.

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  3. 3. Allen Hazen 5:58 pm 08/30/2011

    Seriously off-topic, but I was reminded of the … lamentable … journalistic misrepresentation of your views on Nessie a while back. The “Daily Mail” had a decent write-up on Juramaia (with quotations from Zhexi Luo that sounded like things he might actually have said), but the HEADLINE was
    “Are you a man or a mouse? How humans evolved from RODENT that lived in China 160m years ago”

    Read more:

    (Hmm. Time for some sociolinguistic research: does most of the population actually believe that “rodent” just means “small mammal”?)

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  4. 4. BilBy 8:20 am 09/1/2011

    The camel episode got a bit of a panning in a review in the Guardian. Mainly along the lines of, well I don’t want to see guts, the computer simulations were better. It also had a wearily predictable pop at the ‘god of evolution’ Richard Dawkins. The comments also tended to repeat the complaint ‘OMG, why did they kill an animal JUST for a program?’, despite it always being made clear that the subject died a natural death or (in the case of the camel) was being culled anyway. Three series is good but there will always be the vocal minority who are insulted/outraged by anything that smacks of science and involves actual blood and bones. Note to self – never read comments on articles in newspaper

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  5. 5. JDaniel 12:11 pm 09/2/2011

    Perhaps you can let the nice folks at Channel 4 know there are people in the US that like their show, but not so enthusiastic about having to watch it on Youtube. Some of us (like me) would even buy their DVDs if we could watch them over here. Since I don’t happen to have a DVD player zoned for the UK, it has been Youtube only. Grr.

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  6. 6. naishd 12:16 pm 09/2/2011

    Hi. I thought that the series did screen in the US, under the title ‘Raw Anatomy’. Obviously, you guys are going to be a series or two behind us. Good news (at least in the UK) is that series 1 is now out on DVD.


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  7. 7. JDaniel 1:28 pm 09/2/2011

    Cool. I hadn’t heard about Raw Anatomy. Thanks for the tip.

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