Lama (genus)

Lama (genus)

name = Llamas

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Llama
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Artiodactyla
familia = Camelidae
genus = "Lama"
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = "Lama glama" "Lama guanicoe"

"Lama" is the modern genus name for two South American camelids, the wild guanaco and the domesticated llama. This genus is closely allied to the wild vicuña and domesticated alpaca of the genus "Vicugna". Before the Spanish conquest of the Americas, llamas and alpacas were the only domesticated ungulates of the continent. They were kept not only for their value as beasts of burden, but also for their flesh, hides, and wool. See individual species articles at:

* Llama
* Guanaco
* Alpaca (Currently "Vicugna pacos", formerly "Lama pacos")
* Vicuña (Closely related "Vicugna vicugna")


Although they were often compared by early writers to sheep and spoken of as such, their affinity to the camel was soon perceived. They were included in the genus "Camelus" in the "Systema Naturae" of Linnaeus. In 1800, Cuvier moved the llama, alpaca and guanaco to the genus "Lama", and the vicuña to the genus "Vicugna". Later, the alpaca was also transferred to "Vicugna". These camelids 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 "hump-footed," from the peculiar bumps on the soles of their feet. 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.

Discovery of the extinct fauna of the American continent of the Tertiary period, starting with the palaeontologists Leidy, Cope, and Marsh, has revealed the early history of this family. It is now known that llamas were not always confined to South America; their remains are abundant in the Pleistocene deposits of the Rocky Mountains region, and in Central America; some of these extinct forms were much larger than any now living.

None of these transitional forms have been found in Old World strata; it is therefore clear that North America was the original home of the Tylopoda, and that the true camels passed over into the Old World by way of north Asia. Gradually driven southward, perhaps by changes of climate, and having become isolated, they have undergone further special modifications. Meanwhile, the other surviving members of the family have become restricted to South America.


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 true 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 and woolly.

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. It may, therefore, be considered distinct. It 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 Guanaco has an extensive geographical range, from the high lands of the Andean region of Ecuador and Peru to the open plains of Patagonia, and even the wooded islands of Tierra del Fuego. It constituted the principal food of the Patagonian Indians, and they use its skin for the material out of which their long robes are constructed. It is about the size of a European red deer, and is an elegant animal with a long, slender, gracefully curved neck and slim legs.


* A German llama-homepage with a lot of pictures and informations :

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lama (disambiguation) — Lama can refer to: * Lama, the Tibetan word for religious teacher (like the Sanskrit term guru ) * Lama (genus), the genus name, and a common misspelling, of llama (animal) * Lama tree or Lamalama, Diospyros Sandwicensis , a tree endemic to… …   Wikipedia

  • Lama guanicoe — noun wild llama • Syn: ↑guanaco • Hypernyms: ↑llama • Member Holonyms: ↑Lama, ↑genus Lama …   Useful english dictionary

  • Lama pacos — noun domesticated llama with long silky fleece; believed to be a domesticated variety of the guanaco • Syn: ↑alpaca • Hypernyms: ↑llama • Member Holonyms: ↑Lama, ↑genus Lama …   Useful english dictionary

  • Lama peruana — noun used in the Andes as a beast of burden and source of wool; considered a domesticated variety of the guanaco • Syn: ↑domestic llama • Hypernyms: ↑llama • Member Holonyms: ↑Lama, ↑genus Lama …   Useful english dictionary

  • genus Lama — noun llamas • Syn: ↑Lama • Hypernyms: ↑mammal genus • Member Holonyms: ↑Camelidae, ↑family Camelidae • Member Meronyms: ↑domestic llama …   Useful english dictionary

  • mammal genus — noun a genus of mammals • Hypernyms: ↑genus • Hyponyms: ↑Tachyglossus, ↑genus Tachyglossus, ↑Zaglossus, ↑genus Zaglossus, ↑Ornithorhynchus, ↑genus Ornithorhynchus, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Camelidae — noun camels and llamas and vicunas • Syn: ↑family Camelidae • Hypernyms: ↑mammal family • Member Holonyms: ↑Artiodactyla, ↑order Artiodactyla • Member Meronyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • List of placental mammals in Order Artiodactyla — The class Mammalia (the mammals) is divided into two subclasses based on reproductive techniques: egg laying mammals (the monotremes); and mammals which give live birth. The latter subclass is divided into two infraclasses: pouched mammals (the… …   Wikipedia

  • family Camelidae — noun camels and llamas and vicunas • Syn: ↑Camelidae • Hypernyms: ↑mammal family • Member Holonyms: ↑Artiodactyla, ↑order Artiodactyla • Member Meronyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • domestic llama — noun used in the Andes as a beast of burden and source of wool; considered a domesticated variety of the guanaco • Syn: ↑Lama peruana • Hypernyms: ↑llama • Member Holonyms: ↑Lama, ↑genus Lama …   Useful english dictionary

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