Camels

One hump or two humps? The Bactrian camel has two humps, and the Dromedary one. Bactria was an ancient country in central Asia, named after the modern village of Balkh in Afghanistan. Dromedary is from the Greek dromos (runner), from which we also get hippodrome, aerodrome, and perhaps less obviously, palindrome.

Palindrome is from the Greek for ‘running back again’ and is a word (or phrase) like ‘A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!’ that reads the same backwards as forwards.

Still confused about the number of humps? Imagine each initial letter on its side:

mag cover This article is from the October 2002 issue of New Internationalist. You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial now »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop