Llamas are members of the South American Camelid family ... which includes the alpaca, guanaco and vicuna. Camelids originated in the central plains of North America approximately 40 million years ago.

Llamas spread into South America 3 million years ago. By the last ice age (11-12,000) they had become extinct in North America.

Llamas were domesticated in the Andean highlands of Peru 4-5,000 years ago, and primarily used as beasts of burden.


They also provided the South American herdsman with meat, wool for clothing, hide for shelter, manure pellets for fuel, and were used as offerings to the gods. It's believed llamas are amongst the earliest domesticated animals in the world.

Today, there are an estimated 3.5 million llamas in South America and about 2500 in Australia.

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