The giant camel of Thamud
I read with interest that Swiss scientists had discovered an ancient giant camel or dromedary in Syria. Professor Jean-Marie Le Tensorer of the University of Basel said the camel's shoulders stood three meters high and it was around four meters tall, as big as a giraffe or an elephant, adding "nobody knew that such a species had existed." standing a good three metres tall. They also found bones of early humans who appeared to be somewhere between the categorisations of Neanderthal and Homo sapiens. The researchers suggested that their find indicated that a group of humans killed the large animal when it was drinking from a spring. Could this be the she-camel of the people of Thamud referred to in the Qur'an?
The Thamud are an ancient Arab people thought to be the descendants of the Arab tribe of 'Ad. They had an impressive civilisation, carving houses out of rocks, some of which can still be seen in the region to the North of the Arabian peninsula and today's Syria. Their prophet Salih gave them a she-camel as a sign which he instructed they had to share their drinking space with and forbade them from harming her. Instead they hamstrung her and brought upon themselves the doom of total annihilation. The land once known for its abundance of water returned to being a desert, exactly as the researchers from Basel describe it.
According to Islamic folklore the camel was created by the prophet as a sign from a rock and was so huge that grazing sheep fled from it in fright and even cattle would keep their distance. As a one-off miracle it would be unique rather than a remnant of an extinct species. Further analysis should prove most interesting if the results will be shared with the public. We are still waiting for the results of the exploration of Noah's ark on mount Judi in the Ararat range in Eastern Turkey which once excited archaeologists but has gone strangely quiet over the years.