llama (läˈmə) [key], South American domesticated ruminant mammal, Lama glama, of the camel family. Genetic studies indicate that it is descended from the guanaco. Smaller than the camel and lacking a hump, it somewhat resembles a large sheep with a long neck, camellike face, and long ears. It may be brown, white, black, or piebald. Llamas live in herds, owned by the indigenous population, on the high plains of the Andes Mts. and can work at altitudes that most animals cannot tolerate. The llama carries loads of up to 100 lbs (45 kg) but is never ridden. Used as a pack animal since the days of the Incas, it is also valued for its flesh, wool, and milk. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Camelidae. See also alpaca; vicuña.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.