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Comparative Study
, 266 (1420), 649-56

Hybridizing Old and New World Camelids: Camelus Dromedarius X Lama Guanicoe

Comparative Study

Hybridizing Old and New World Camelids: Camelus Dromedarius X Lama Guanicoe

J A Skidmore et al. Proc Biol Sci.


Thirty female dromedary camels were inseminated on a total of 50 occasions with 2-4 ml of fresh guanaco semen diluted with an equal volume of commercially available camel semen extender. Similarly, nine female guanacos were inseminated on 34 occasions with 4-6 ml of fresh, diluted camel semen. Only two of the dromedary females conceived; one aborted a female foetus on day 260 of gestation and the other gave birth to a stillborn female calf on day 365. Six conceptions occurred in the female guanacos. Two of these conceptuses, diagnosed by ultrasound, were resorbed between days 25 and 40 of gestation, one female foetus was aborted on day 291, another female foetus was aborted on day 302, and one female calf was stillborn on day 365 of gestation. The sixth foetus, a male, was born prematurely but alive after a 328-day gestation. It had a phenotypic appearance intermediate between that of a camel and a guanaco and its hybrid parentage was confirmed by the DNA fingerprinting of eight llama microsatellites. To our knowledge, this is the first viable hybrid ever to be produced between Old World and New World camelids, which have been reproductively isolated from one another for at least 11 million years. The preponderance of female hybrids is in accordance with Haldane's law. Histological examination of their ovaries revealed a failure of meiosis, with only an occasional abnormal oocyte surrounded by follicle cells. Although the diploid chromosone number of camels and guanacos is the same (2n = 74), sufficient genetic change has taken place to make the pairing of homologous chromosomes no longer possible.

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