Dromedary on Aisle 12

Written by M.V. Moorhead Category: History Issue: August 2013
Group Free

In early 2007, Brad Archer, then curator of ASU’s R.S. Dietz Museum, got a call from a friend at the construction site of a new Walmart store in Mesa. Archer’s friend, a nursery owner who dabbled in paleontology, was excavating a hole for a tree when he turned up bones.

“We got out a fairly complete post-cranial skeleton of an animal, big-dog sized,” Archer says, “but it had hooves.” Shortly thereafter, his friend made another find: “A baby skull, a juvenile.” Their initial guess – that these were prehistoric camels – was reported as fact in the media. The creatures were dubbed “Walmart Camels.”

“Unfortunately, that label stuck,” Archer says with a sigh, though his subsequent testing proved inconclusive. “Once something ends up in print, or, even worse, on the Internet, it’s tough to correct the facts, and they tend to have a life of their own.”