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Llama fiber

Llamas also have a fine undercoat which can be used for handicrafts and garments. The coarser outer guard hair is used for rugs, wall-hangings and lead ropes. The fiber comes in many different colors ranging from white, grey, redish brown, brown, dark brown and black.

The individual shafts of the wool can be measured in micrometres. 1 micrometre = 1/1000 millimeter.

Animal Fiber diameter
(micrometres)
Vicu
a
6
10
Alpaca (Suri) 10 - 15
Muskox (Qivlut) 11 - 13
Merino 12 - 20
Angora Rabbit 13
Cashmere 15 - 19
Yak Down 15 - 19
Camel Down 16 - 25
Guanaco 16 - 18
Llama (Tapada) 20 - 30
Chinchilla 21
Mohair 25 - 45
Alpaca (Huacaya) 27.7
Llama (Ccara) 30 - 40

Technically the fiber is not wool as it is hollow with a structure of diagonal 'walls' which makes it strong, light and good insulation. Wool as a word by itself refers to sheep fiber. However, llama fiber is commonly referred to as llama wool or llama fiber.

The llama (Lama glama) is a South American camelid, widely used as a pack animal by the Incas[1] and other natives of the Andes mountains. In South America llamas are still used as beasts of burden, as well as for the production of fiber and meat.[2]

The height of a full-grown, full-size llama is between 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall at the top of the head. They can weigh between approximately 280 pounds (127 kilograms) and 450 pounds (204 kilograms). At birth, a baby llama (called a cria) can weigh between 20 pounds (9 kilograms) to 30 pounds (14 kilograms). Llamas are very social animals and like to live with other llamas as a herd. Overall, the fiber produced by a llama is very soft and is naturally lanolin free. Llamas are intelligent and can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. When using a pack, llamas can carry about 25%-30% of their body weight for several miles.[3]

Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America and Asia about 3 million years ago. By the end of the last ice age (10,000-12,000 years ago) camelids were extinct in North America.[3] As of 2007, there were over 7 million llamas and alpacas in South America and, due to importation from South America in the late 20th century, there are now over 100,000 llamas and 6,500
7,000 alpacas in the US and Canada.[4]

Classification

Although early writers compared llamas to sheep, their similarity to the camel was very soon recognized. 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. Vicunas 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. The Tylopoda consists of a single family, the Camelidae, and shares the Artiodactyla taxon with the Suina (pigs), the Tragulina (chevrotains), and the Pecora (ruminants). The Tylopoda have more or less affinity to each of the sister taxa, standing in some respects in a middle position between them, sharing some characteristics from each, but in others showing great special modifications not found in any of the other taxa.

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, since abundant llama-like remains have been found in Pleistocene deposits in the Rocky Mountains and in Central America. Some of the fossil llamas were much larger than current llamas. Some species remained North America during the last ice ages. North American llamas are categorized as a single extinct genus, Hemiauchenia. 25,000 years ago, llama-like animals would have been a common sight in modern-day California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Missouri, and Florida.

There are few groups of mammals for which the palaeontological history has been so satisfactorily demonstrated as the llama. 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 characteristics became more general, and they lost those that especially distinguished them as Camelidae; hence they were classified as forms of the common ancestral Artiodactyl taxon.

No fossils of these earlier forms have been found in the Old World, leading to the hypothesis that the Americas were the original home of the Tylopoda, and that Old World camels migrated into the Old World from the Americas over the Bering land bridge. 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.

 
Characteristics
The following characteristics 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.

Vertebrae:

  • cervical 7,
  • dorsal 12,
  • lumbar 7,
  • sacral 4,
  • caudal 15 to 20.

The ears are rather long and slightly curved inward, characteristically known as "banana" shaped. 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 fibre is long, woolly and soft.

In essential structural characteristics, 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.

These are:

  • the llama, Auchenia glama (Linn.), or Lama peruana (Tiedemann);
  • the alpaca, A. pacos (Linn.);
  • the guanaco or huanaco, A. huonaeus (Molina); and
  • the vicuna, A. vicugna (Molina), or A. vicuiena, (Cuv.).

The llama and alpaca are only known in the domestic state, and are variable in size and of many colors, being often white, brown, or piebald. Some are grey or black. The guanaco and vicuna are wild, the former being endangered, and of a nearly uniform light-brown color, passing into white below. They certainly differ from each other, the vicu
a being smaller, more slender in its proportions, and having a shorter head than the guanaco. The vicuna 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 fiber is extremely delicate and soft, and highly valued for the purposes of weaving, but the quantity which each animal produces is minimal. Alpaca are descended from a wild vicuna ancestor while the domesticated llama is descended from a wild guanaco ancestor, though at this point there has been a considerable amount of hybridization between the two species.

Differentiating characteristics between llamas and alpacas include the llama's larger size and longer head. Alpaca fiber is generally more expensive but not always more valuable. Alpacas tend to have a more consistent color throughout the body. The most apparent visual difference between llamas and camels is that camels have a hump or humps and llamas do not.

Commonly unknown, llamas do not have eyelashes. However, their cousin the alpaca does.

References

This article incorporates text from the Encyclop
dia Britannica Eleventh Edition
article "Llama", a publication now in the public domain.
  1.  "Little Llamas". Inca culture (2006-10-10).
  2.  "Information Resources on the South American Camelids: Llamas, Alpacas, Guanacos, and Vicunas 1943-2006" (2007-06-25).
  3.  a b "Llama" (2007-06-25).
  4.  South Central Llama Association (2007-06-25). "Llama Facts".
  5.  Greta Stamberg and Derek Wilson (2007-04-12). "Induced Ovulation". Llamapaedia.
  6.  L. W. Johnson (2007-04-17). "Llama reproduction". College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
  7.  "The llama reproductive cycle". LlamaWeb (2007-04-17).
  8.  Randy Sell (2007-04-17). "Llama". Department of Agricultural Economics, North Dakota State University.
  9.  Murray E. Fowler, DVM (1989). "Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids; Llama, Alpaca, Vicu
    a, Guanaco
    ". Iowa State University Press.
  10.  Greta Stamberg and Derek Wilson (1997-09-02). "Behavior: Sounds". Llamapedia.
  11.  Brian and Jane Pinkerton (2008-05-17). "Llama Sounds". Humm Page.
  12.  Jared Diamond (2007-04-12). "Guns, Germs & Steel. The Show: Episode Two". PBS.
  13.  Jared Diamond (2007-04-12). "Guns, Germs & Steel. The story of ... Llamas". PBS.
  14.  D'Altroy, Terence N. [2002]. "The Inca Pantheon", The Incas, The Peoples of America. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 149. ISBN 9780631176770. 
  15.  Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueol
    gico Rafael Larco Herrera.
    New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  16.  Beula Williams (2007-04-17). "Llama Fiber". International Llama Association.
The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llama_wool).  Modified by Apparel Search August 31, 2008

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