For he who is acquainted with the paths of nature, will more readily observe her deviations; and vice versa, he who has learnt her deviations, will be able more accurately to describe her paths.
In Romania, during the predawn hours of June 29, 2014, a mare gave birth to an ostensible camel-horse hybrid in Zărand, a commune in Arad County. The severed head and neck of this strange creature, which was stillborn, are pictured below. It is unclear whether the camel parent would have been a Bactrian camel or a dromedary—both in the present case and in a second case, quoted below—although the coloration of the putative hybrid seems more reminiscent of C. bactrianus. It is not even certain that the two births in question, though both birthed by mares and both resembling camels, actually were camel-horse hybrids, given that it seems that no specimen was preserved and that no DNA tests have occurred. In the second case, however, it is known that the mother mare was confined with camels. Moreover, putative hybrid shown in the pictures below certainly looks more like a camel than a horse.Although the skull of the Zărand animal was grossly deformed by intracranial pressures, which also bulged its eyes, it can be seen that the coat color of this animal, and its general physiognomy, are reminiscent of a camel. Reports say it also had the elongated legs of a camel, as well as the long and slender neck. A translation of a Romanian language news story reads as follows:
People in the Arad town of Zărand are in shock and praying in church after a mare gave birth to a colt there that looks more like a camel with bulging eyes.
Locals believe it’s a bad sign, coming before Easter, and say they’ve never seen such a scary being.
“I have something here that I’ve never seen in my life,” said the owner of the animal, according arq.ro [a local online news source].
The mare gave birth last night, dying in labor. The colt lies in the owner’s farmyard, people standing about, in shock at the way it looks.
Meanwhile, the owner says he’ll ask the local veterinarian, who was not present during the delivery, for compensation. The vet, who is supposed to be responsible for Arad County, is still nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, local women are going to church to pray, believing the mutant colt is a bad sign
“I have not seen anything like this in the 51 years of my life,” said one, “not since I was born.”
[Translated by E.M. McCarthy]
The residents of Zărand are not the first to be affrighted by strange hybrids. Abnormal births have been considered ominous since ancient times. Indeed, the word monster come from Latin monere, meaning to show or indicate. Like comets, eclipses and other rare portents, hybrids have been taken as harbingers of evil things to come. And many people have such feelings about strange hybrids even today, as evidenced by the reaction of the Christian women of Zărand.
An additional report about an ostensible camel-horse hybrid describes a case in which a mare housed with circus camels later gave birth to an abnormal “colt” that had evident traits of a camel. The story appeared in March 29, 1902 issue of the San Francisco Call, a newspaper published in San Francisco, California (source).
SAN JOSE, March 28.— A curiosity in the shape of a colt with a camel’s head and one large eye in the center of the forehead was born this morning at the ranch of Samuel Parker, near Milpitas. The animal otherwise is a perfect specimen of a thoroughbred colt and well developed. A nose was lacking and as it could only breathe through its mouth it lived but a short time. The jaws and lower part of the head are those of a camel. The lower jaw is very long, while the upper one and the lip are short. On the upper lip is hair the same as on a camel’s lip and the mouth resembles that of the humped animal. Above the mouth is an abnormal eye, as large as two ordinary ones. This optic is open. Above on either side of this cyclopic member are two other eyes. They are covered with skin, but can be plainly felt. The ears are those of a horse, but are turned around more than ordinarily. The mother of the colt was at the racetrack this winter while Norris & Rowe’s [Circus] show was in quarters there and the monstrosity is supposed to have been due to a prenatal influence.
Presumably, camels were among the circus animals kept by Norris & Rowe at the racetrack stable, so that there was opportunity for the requisite mating to take place.
Perhaps then, since witnesses on the spot thought these creatures looked like camel-horse hybrids, they actually were camel-horse hybrids? The notion is made more plausible by that fact that many horse-cow hybrids (“jumarts”) have been reported. But only with further investigation will this question be resolved.
The old Latin name for a camel-horse hybrid is a hippocamelus. Hippocamelusis also a genus of deer comprising the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) and the taruca (H. antisensi).
By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).
Human Origins: Are we hybrids?
On the Origins of New Forms of Life
Cat-rabbit Hybrids: Fact or fiction?
Georges Cuvier: A Biography
Prothero: A Rebuttal
Branches of Biology