September 28, 2001
How the Camel Got Its Hump, One Protein at a Time
Scientists study enzymes for clues to the way organisms adapt
Life sometimes flaunts its ability to evolve. Camels carry around conspicuous humps that store fat for times of need. Giraffes sport impossibly long necks that provide access to the leaves atop trees. Bats employ a sonar system that allows them to catch prey under the cover of darkness.
But the end point of evolution often doesn't reveal how such adaptations came about. Paleontologists have traditionally tried to