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- For other uses of "llama" and similarly spelt words, see Lama (disambiguation)
The llama (Lama glama) is a quadruped. It is a large camelid that originated in North America and then later on moved on to South America. The term llama is sometimes used more broadly, to indicate any of the four closely related animals that make up the South American branch of the family Camelidae: the true llama, the vicuña, alpaca, and guanaco. They were used as a system of transportation for the Incas.
Differentiating characteristics between llamas and alpacas are that llamas are larger and have more elongated heads. Alpacas are sometimes considered to have more valuable fiber, as it is typically finer than that of a llama. Alpacas also tend to have darker fur than that of llamas. The most apparent visual difference between llamas and camels is that camels have a hump or humps and llamas do not.
Although they were often compared by early writers to sheep and spoken of as such, their affinity to the camel was very soon perceived. They were included in the genus Camelus in the Systema Naturae of Linnaeus. They were, however, separated by Cuvier in 1800 under the name of llama along with the alpaca and the guanaco. Vicuñas are in genus Vicugna. The animals of the genus Lama are, with the two species of true camels, the sole existing representatives of a very distinct section of the "Artiodactyla" or even-toed ungulates, called Tylopoda, or "bump-footed," from the peculiar bumps on the soles of their feet, on which they tread. This section thus consists of a single family, the Camelidae, the other sections of the same great division being the Suina or pigs, the Tragulina or chevrotains, and the Pecora or true ruminants, to each of which the Tylopoda have more or less affinity, standing in some respects in a central position between them, borrowing as it were some characters from each, but in others showing great special modifications not found in any of the other sections.
The discoveries of a vast and previously unsuspected extinct fauna of the American continent of the Tertiary period, as interpreted by the palaeontologists Leidy, Cope, and Marsh, has thrown a flood of light upon the early history of this family, and upon its relations to other mammals.
It is now known that llamas at one time were not confined to the part of the continent south of the Isthmus of Panama, as at the present day, for their remains have been abundantly found in the Pleistocene deposits of the region of the Rocky Mountains, and in Central America, some attaining a much larger size than those now existing. Some species of llamas did stay in North America during the last ice ages. 25,000 years ago, llamas would have been a common sight in modern-day California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Missouri, and Florida. These North American llamas belong to a single genus, Hemiauchenia, which is extinct.
Many camel-like animals exhibiting different genetic modifications and a gradual series of changes, coinciding with the antiquity of the deposits in which they are found, have been traced from the thoroughly differentiated species of the modern epoch down through the Pliocene to the early Miocene beds. Their characters having become more generalized, they have lost all that especially distinguishes them as Camelidae: they are merged into forms common to the ancestral type of all the other sections of the Artiodactyles.
Hitherto none of these annectant forms have been found in any of the fossiliferous strata of the Old World; it may therefore be fairly surmised (according to the evidence at present before us) that the Americas were the original home of the Tylopoda, and that the true camels have passed over into the Old World, probably by way of north Asia. Gradually driven southward, perhaps by changes of climate, and having become isolated, they have undergone further special modifications. Meanwhile, those members of the family that remained in their original birthplace have become, through causes not clearly understood, restricted solely to the southern or most distant part of the continent. There are few groups of mammals for which the palaeontological history has been so satisfactorily demonstrated as the llama.
Having been 'discovered' by European settlers in Southern America, the llama was widely recognised as a food source with potential for farming. The hoofs were used for a variety of medicinal purposes, such as ointment associated with the cure of headaches and minor colds, and were also considered a valuable ingredient for many experimental alchemists of that period. Because of their uniqueness and range of colors, the fur of the Llama was often used by the rich and made into coats for the winter, this was to show off their wealth, as well as one of the most effective ways to keep warm.
The following characters apply especially to llamas. Dentition of adults:-incisors 1/3 canines 1/1, premolars 2/2, molars 3/2; total 32. In the upper jaw there is a compressed, sharp, pointed laniariform incisor near the hinder edge of the premaxilla, followed in the male at least by a moderate-sized, pointed, curved spank canine in the anterior part of the maxilla. The isolated canine-like premolar which 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, 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 relatively 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.
- cervical 7,
- dorsal 12,
- lumbar 7,
- sacral 4,
- caudal 15 to 20.
Ears are rather long and pointed. There is no dorsal hump. Feet are narrow, the toes being more separated than in the camels, each having a distinct plantar pad. The tail is short, and fur is long, woolly and soft.
In essential structural characters, as well as in general appearance and habits, all the animals of this genus very closely resemble each other, so that whether they should be considered as belonging to one, two, or more species is a matter of controversy among naturalists.
The question is complicated by the circumstance of the great majority of individuals which have come under observation being either in a completely or partially domesticated state. Many are also descended from ancestors which have previously been domesticated; a state which tends to produce a certain amount of variation from the original type. It has, however, lost much of its importance since the doctrine of the distinct origin of species has been generally abandoned. The four forms commonly distinguished by the inhabitants of South America are recognized by some naturalists as distinct species, and have had specific designations attached to them, though usually with expressions of doubt, and with great difficulties in defining their distinctive characteristics.
- the llama, Auchenia glama (Linn.), or Lama peruana (Tiedemann);
- the alpaca, A. pacos (Linn.);
- the guanaco or huanaco, A. huonaeus (Molina); and
- the vicuña, A. vicugna (Molina), or A. vicuiena, (Cuv.).
The llama and alpaca are only known in the domestic state, and are variable in size and colour, being often white, black, or piebald. The guanaco and vicuña are wild and endangered, and of a nearly uniform light-brown colour, passing into white below. They certainly differ from each other, the vicuña being smaller, more slender in its proportions, and having a shorter head than the guanaco. The vicuña lives in herds 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, in the southern part of Ecuador, and as far south as the middle of Bolivia. Its manners very much resemble those of the chamois of the European Alps; it is as vigilant, wild, and timid. The wool is extremely delicate and soft, and highly valued for the purposes of weaving, but the quantity which each animal produces is minimal.
The llama is considered a(n) esquisit dish in some parts of eastern europe in recent case studies llama has been found to be served in certain areas of Miami FL such as in the area of homestead and in hialiah. A dead llama has been found in the Miami river recently
Llamas who are well-socialized and brought up by loving families are very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. Llamas who are not well-socialized or who have been abused or mis-treated, however, are quite stand-offish. They are also more likely to treat humans as they treat each other, which is characterized by spitting, kicking and/or neck wrestling.
Llamas are very social herd animals and spitting is a part of that. They often spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd. Spitting at a human is a rare thing unless the llama is being trained. 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 who becomes alpha. 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.
While the social structure might always be changing, they are a family and they do take care of each other. If one notices a strange noise or feels threatened, a warning scream is sent out and all others come to alert. They can also make a humming sound, which is usually a sign of recognition.
The sound of the llama making groaning noises or going "mwa" is often a sign of fear or anger. If a llama is agitated, it will lay its ears back. 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.
An "orgle" is the mating sound of a llama or alpaca, made by the male when he is in heat. The sound is reminiscient 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.
One of the main uses for llamas at the time of the Spanish conquest was to bring down ore from the mines in the mountains. Gregory de Bolivar estimated that in his day, as many as three hundred thousand were employed in the transport of produce from the Potosí mines alone, but since the introduction of horses, mules, and donkeys, the importance of the llama as a beast of burden has greatly diminished.
Llamas in popular culture
- See main article: Llama (computer culture)
List of notable llamas
- The animated movie The Emperor's New Groove features Emperor Kuzco, voiced by David Spade, who gets transformed into a llama.
- In the movie Napoleon Dynamite Napoleon's Grandmother keeps a pet llama named Tina.
- Carl Wheezer, a character on Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, has a seemingly unhealthy obsession with llamas.
- The llama is the official mascot of Simon's Rock College due to the proximity of the college soccer fields to a llama farm.
- A character in the popular British radio soap opera The Archers, Lynda Snell, owns a pair of llamas named Wolfgang and Constanza.
- An indie guitar act from the UK, the Llama Farmers, have taken the animal for their name.
- An episode of the animated television series Camp Lazlo called "Loogie Llama" features a llama that been adopted by the residents of Camp Kidney as a riding animal.
- A llama is a term used by some fans of the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? for a contestant who gets one of the first five questions wrong, leaving with no money. This term originates from a contestant (Robby Roseman of Chicago) who incorrectly answered the first question, "Hannibal crossed the Alps using what animals?" He chose llamas over the correct answer of elephants.
- A llama is featured in the computer game Bureaucracy, co-authored by Douglas Adams, who supposedly spent some time at a llama farm during brainstorming sessions for the game.
- "The Llama Song" is a comical song by Burton Earny, available on the Internet accompanied by a Flash-animated series of photos.
- Certain games from Maxis, such as The Sims 2, feature references to llamas.
- In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a large white llama is tied to a fence when Butch, Sundance, and Etta get off the train in Peru.
- In the MMORPG Ultima Online, when an Energy Vortex is summoned, it will occasionally appear as a purple llama. The game also includes llamas as rideable mounts, as well as numerous other references to llamas.
- A portion of the opening credits for Monty Python and the Holy Grail gives the impression that the entire film was created by Llamas.
- In an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin play a Spanish ensemble claiming Llamas have beaks, live in the Amazon and are very dangerous, prompting them to request that if you see a Llama, you ought to yell, "¡Cuidado, Llamas!"
- In one of his "Far Side" strips, the cartoonist Gary Larson depicted two llamas inside a house, one reading a newspaper and the other looking out the window at a third llama approaching the house while carrying a briefcase. The one looking out the window says, "Llook out, Llarry -- it's the llandllord!"
- A song by the band Phish on album Picture of Nectar.
- A llama appears in the vet's office in an episode of Twin Peaks, where it pauses, and looks, apparently knowingly, straight at Special Agent Dale Cooper. According to the director, this happened accidentally but was believed to be appropriate.
- The pushmi-pullyu of the 1967 version of Doctor Doolittle was played by a llama.
- In the Adventures of Tintin story "Prisoners of the Sun", one of the running jokes involves different llamas spitting at Captain Haddock. In the end, he gets his revenge by spitting a mouthful of water in an unsuspecting llama's face.
- There is a talking llama in Busty Cops 2.
- Neil Young has a song titled 'Ride my Llama' on the album Rust Never Sleeps in which he sings of riding his llama from Peru to Texarkana, and riding it good in his old neighbourhood.
- There was a controversy amongst Serenity fans pertaining to the graphics on the DVD cover, in particular because there was apparently a llama depicted in the seething mass of people on the cover. There is no llama in the film.
- De Lama's (Dutch for The Llama's) is a Dutch television show of BNN that was first aired on June 28, 2004. It is based on the Channel 4-show Whose Line is it Anyway, which is a combination of well-known and less-known theatresports-parts. The most important is improvisation.
- 'Terry The Llama' (notable llama that has recently appeared on the Oxford Facebook network)
- ^ Little Llamas. Inca culture. Retrieved on October 10, 2006.
- ^ Everyboy's a Winner. Chicago Millionaire mania. Retrieved on September 21, 2006.
- Greta Stamberg and Derek Wilson (1997-09-02). Behaviour: Sounds. Llamapedia.
- Kris and Albert Olson. What sounds do they make?. Frequently Asked Questions. Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm.
- Brian and Jane Pinkerton. What kind of sounds do they make?. the llama question and answer page. Mount Lehman Llamas.
- Cama, a breed between a llama and a Camel.
- Guard Llama, llamas used as livestock guardians.
- Queso Cabeza Farm, breeder and Owner of heavy wool llamas, Michigan USA
- Llama facts and photography - Wild Animals Online encyclopedia
- The Llama Song A song about llamas.
- Llamapaedia Orgle Sound (AIFF).